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Judge denies bail to S.C. attorney Alex Murdaugh in $3.4M embezzlement case

Judge denies bail to S.C. attorney Alex Murdaugh in $3.4M embezzlement case
Image of South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, who was denied bail Tuesday on charges connected with an insurance claim involving the death of his housekeeper. Photo courtesy of NBC's Today

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A South Carolina state judge denied suspended attorney Alex Murdaugh bond Tuesday after hearing witnesses in a case accusing him of embezzling $3.4 million from his deceased housekeeper's estate.

Murdaugh, whose wife and son were killed earlier this year under mysterious circumstances, has been connected with other unusual events including an alleged plot to have someone kill him so another son can collect insurance money.

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"There's no amount of bond the court can set that can provide safety to Mr. Murdaugh and the community," Judge Clifton Newman said, according to The State newspaper. "I am ordering the defense to produce a psychiatric examination."

Murdaugh, from a prominent family of South Carolina attorneys, had sought a personal recognizance bond while prosecutors asked for a $200,000. Newman instead said he may reconsider offering a bond after a report on Murdaugh's psychiatric examination is completed and reviewed.

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He is accused of misappropriating an insurance settlement meant for the sons of his family's late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. Satterfield had worked for the Murdaughs for more than two decades but died in 2018 in what was described as a "trip and fall accident" at the Murdaugh home.

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Eric Bland, an attorney for Satterfield's estate filed a lawsuit in September against Murdaugh seeking the money they say they are due.

In affidavits released Saturday by the South Carolina Enforcement Division, authorities tried to shed light on the unusual set of events between Murdaugh and the Satterfield family.

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"Mr. Murdaugh coordinated with (Gloria) Satterfield's family to sue himself in order to seek an insurance settlement with the stated intent to give the proceeds to the Satterfield family to pay for funeral expenses and monetary compensation for Satterfield's children."

Murdaugh, according to authorities, then deposited about $3 million into his own account and kept the funds.

The plot thickened when the Hampton County coroner's office found inconsistencies in ruling Satterfield's death as accidental, opening up a criminal investigation in the housekeeper's death and the handling of her estate.

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Murdaugh was shot in the head in early September, but the attorney later admitted it was part of a scheme with a former client to kill him so his only surviving son could collect an insurance payout.

The incident came less than three months after his wife and youngest son were found dead at their home.

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