Alex Murdaugh denied bond second time after court reviews his psychiatric evaluation

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A South Carolina judge denied bond for Alex Murdaugh a second time Tuesday, ruling the disgraced attorney’s requested psychiatric evaluation confirms he is a danger to himself and the community.

Murdaugh, facing charges in both an alleged botched suicide scheme so his surviving son could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy, and for allegedly pocketing $3.4 million in settlement money his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield’s 2018, will remain held at a Richland County jail awaiting trial. 

Judge Clifton Newman, who is considered an at-large judge in the South Carolina Circuit Court, already denied bond for Murdaugh once before at the conclusion of an Oct. 19 hearing in Richland County, also ordering a psychiatric evaluation be submitted to the court for review.

MURDAUGH INDICTMENTS: DISGRACED LAWYER, ALLEGED HITMAN CHARGES AMPLIFIED BY SC GRAND JURY DECISION 

Three weeks ago, Newman heard presentations from state prosecutor Creighton Waters, Murdaugh’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, and Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, representing the sons of Murdaugh’s longtime nanny and housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who were also present. 

An officer from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) also spoke, noting more charges could come as the agency continues investigating the 2015 roadside death of Stephen Smith and the actual cause of Gloria Satterfield’s death, among several other financial fraud allegations.

Newman noted Tuesday that the court received “a psychiatric evaluation of the defendant dated October 22, 2021.” 

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    Alex Murdaugh awaits the beginning of his bond hearing in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. A judge in South Carolina denied bond for attorney Alex Murdaugh on the second set of charges he has faced since finding his wife and son dead last June.  (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine, Pool)

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    Alex Murdaugh is led to a holding cell while the court is in recess in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Murdaugh is in court on two felony charges of obtaining property by false pretenses. He spent five days in jail after his arrest Thursday at a drug rehab center near Orlando, Florida.  (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine, Pool)

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    Alex Murdaugh awaits the beginning of his bond hearing in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. A judge in South Carolina denied bond for attorney Alex Murdaugh on the second set of charges he has faced since finding his wife and son dead last June.  (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine, Pool)

“After considering the arguments of counsel, the evaluation submitted, pending charges and other investigations, and the apparent character and mental condition of the defendant, the Court finds that the Defendant is a danger both to himself and the community,” Newman said in his ruling, denying bond again. 

The findings of the psychiatric evaluation have not been made public, and Bland and Richter said in a statement provided to Fox News Digital Wednesday they have not seen the report. 

“While we have not seen the required psychiatric evaluation of Alex Murdaugh, we really do not need to,” they wrote. “Since the original bond hearing Alex Murdaugh has taken financial actions which clearly show that he has no respect for the judicial process, legitimate creditors and victims of his criminal activities and that the ordinary rules do not apply to him.”

Their statement goes on to say, “These financial transactions and how they were manipulated by Alex Murdaugh and those close to him show that in addition he represents a flight risk. The justice system continues to work as intended regarding Alex Murdaugh and the Satterfields have confidence that with the installation of the court appointed receiver and continued oversight by judges like Judge Newman, Alex Murdaugh will no longer be receiving favorable treatment but will be drinking from the same cup of justice that every other charged criminal in the state drinks from.” 

They said Newman “continues to exercise the correct judicial temperament in connection with the nature of the pending charges and Alex Murdaugh’s clear and present danger to the community and to himself. This case and the crimes are unique. Ordinary bond rules are not applicable in our view.” 

In remarks to The Post & Courier, a newspaper based in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday, Murdaugh’s lawyer, Harpootlian, said he was disappointed by the judge’s decision to deny bond a second time. 

“We think that he’s entitled to bond under the Constitution and the statutes,” Harpootlian said. “And we’re examining our options at this point.” 

Between the October hearing and Newman’s decision Tuesday night, a different judge had moved to freeze assets for Alex and his surviving son, Buster. In appointing receivers to manage Murdaugh’s finances, Judge Daniel Hall sided with Mark Tinsley, an attorney suing on behalf of the family of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, who was killed in a crash on Murdaugh’s boat which prosecutors said his late son, Paul Murdaugh, was driving while intoxicated and underage in February 2019. 

Last week, a Hampton County grand jury handed down indictments for Alex Murdaugh and an alleged hitman, Curtis Smith, amplifying criminal charges already filed in connection to the alleged botched suicide shooting that occurred along a rural road Labor Day weekend. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, announced the new indictments Thursday. 

In September, a Hampton County judge set Murdaugh’s bond at just $20,000 and he was released on his own recognizance, allowed the travel to out-of-state rehabilitation facilities in Atlanta and Orlando to treat a two-decade-long opioid addiction supposedly worsened after the still unsolved June 7 murders of his wife, Maggie, and their 22-year-old son, Paul. Alex Murdaugh, therefore, spent weeks out of custody until he was arrested again in Florida in October on new charges connected to the Satterfield settlements. 

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