Disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh will appear in a South Carolina courtroom on Thursday for the first time since he was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murders of his wife and son and escorted away in handcuffs and shackles.
The convicted killer faces a slew of financial fraud charges – including allegedly stealing insurance payments meant for the family of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall at the Murdaugh family property in 2018.
He is already serving two life sentences in the June 2021 killings of his wife Maggie and son Paul at the same property where the housekeeper’s fall happened three years earlier.
The status hearing on the financial crimes will be held in Beaufort County with Murdaugh set to appear before Judge Clifton Newman, the same judge who oversaw his murder trial back in March.
Murdaugh attempted to waive his right to appear in person for the hearing, according to Court TV, but Judge Newman ruled that he must be present at the hearing.
Attorneys are expected to set a trial date for the charges stemming from the Satterfield case as well as charges related to a case where Murdaugh is accused of stealing from family friend Jordan Jinks.
Former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte and former attorney Corey Fleming – both former friends of Murdaugh’s and alleged co-conspirators in his financial crimes – are also due in court on the same day.
Fleming is expected to be sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to 23 criminal charges, which included conspiring and working with Murdaugh to steal from clients and friends.
Murdaugh is facing more than 100 state and federal charges over his alleged financial crimes – many of which he admitted to on the witness stand at his murder trial.
The hearing on Thursday will focus on the state charges. A court hearing on the federal charges is scheduled for 21 September.
Murdaugh previously agreed to plead guilty to federal charges he stole millions of dollars from clients, according to court records.
The court appearance comes just over a week after Murdaugh’s defence attorneys filed a bombshell motion requesting a new trial based on allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office was given 10 days to respond to this motion – which gives them until Friday.
Before Murdaugh killed his wife and son, state and federal investigators said he stole millions from clients who suffered debilitating injuries and who needed money for medical care.
He is charged with stealing from his family’s law firm and helping run a drug ring to launder money. Authorities said Murdaugh asked a friend to kill him on the side of a lonely highway so his son would get $10m in life insurance. The shot only grazed his head.
In federal court, Murdaugh faces 14 counts of money laundering, five counts of wire fraud, one count of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Court records didn’t indicate whether there’s an agreement to drop any charges in exchange for a guilty plea.
Each charge carries at least a maximum of 20 years in prison. Some have a maximum 30-year sentence.
Thursday’s court appearance would mark the first time Murdaugh has been seen since he was escorted out of the Colleton County Courthouse in handcuffs on 3 March.
He has only been seen publicly once since then in a batch of photos taken with his prison-issued tablet computer as the system confirmed his identity so he could use the device to make monitored calls, watch approved entertainment, read books or take video classes.