Alex Murdaugh’s Mystery Shooting on Rural Road Was a Botched Suicide Attempt for $10M Insurance Payout: Lawyer

The day before Alex Murdaugh was shot on the rural South Carolina road, his law firm PMPED asked him to resign over misappropriated funds in the millions. “Vast majority of it was used to buy drugs,” his lawyer said. "[He] wrote checks to drug dealers.”

Prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh's attorney is insisting “[Murdaugh] did not murder” his son Paul Murdaugh and wife, Maggie Murdaugh, who were killed in a mysterious shooting in front of their hunting lodge in Colleton County, as he reveals Murdaugh lied about the events of his own shooting earlier this month.

“He arranged to have this guy shoot him,” his lawyer Dick Harpootlian, who said he represented his son, 22-year-old son Paul, in his charges following the 2019 boat crash that left 19-year-old Mallory Beach dead, told the "Today" show of Murdaugh’s bizarre Sept. 4 shooting earlier this month.

61-year-old Curtis Edward Smith, the man Murdaugh allegedly hired to kill him, was arrested by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Tuesday and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud. Smith was also charged with distribution of methamphetamine and marijuana, and authorities said there will be additional charges against Smith.

It was earlier believed that Murdaugh was pulled over while driving down Old Salkehatchie Road to change a flat tire when he suffered a gunshot wound to the head. “He called this guy who met him on the side of the road, agreed to shoot him in his head and this fake car break down,” Harpootlian said.

Murdaugh had been injured in the shooting, Harpootlian explained. The bullet entered and exited his head before Murdaugh lost vision and was transported to the hospital, where he was discharged the following day.

The apparent elaborate set-up had been his way of attempting to help his remaining son, Buster, Harpootlian explained, adding that a $10 million life insurance policy had been taken out in Murdaugh’s name and he hoped orchestrating a suicide would help his son collect the insurance money.

Murdaugh, however, overlooked a clause that said the $10 million policy would not be paid out if he killed himself, his lawyer explained.

“It was an attempt on his part to protect his child,” Harpootlian explained, adding that Murdaugh was fessing up to this scheme now because "he didn’t want law enforcement spending more time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul.”

Murdaugh had been deep into an opioid addiction fueled by the double-murder of his wife and son, his lawyer said.

Ahead of the shooting, PMPED, or Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick, the law firm for which Murdaugh was a partner, agreed he should resign from the company his great-grandfather founded, citing misappropriated office funds in the millions.

“Vast majority of it was used to buy drugs,” Harpootlian explained.

Harpootlian did not deny in the interview that Murdaugh had taken the funds, or that the amount the law firm alleged was inaccurate.

He did, however, agree that millions of dollars would buy a lot of oxycodone and that Murdaugh “wrote checks to drug dealers.”

SLED is currently investigating the misappropriated funds allegations against Murdaugh.

Harpootlian said he and another one of Murdaugh’s attorneys dropped him off at a rehabilitation center following the shooting, and that that was the first time he was not high on drugs in any of their interactions.

Murdaugh believes, however, he does have a suspect identified in their double-homicide, Harpootlian said. They are not releasing any more details as “the motive will reveal who the person is” but said they are in contact with SLED about their suspicions, his lawyer said.

SLED has not yet identified any person of interest in the case.

The Murdaugh family is a prominent legal family in the state’s southern Lowlands. Three generations of Murdaughs have served as elected prosecutors for the state over the span of 87 years.

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