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Alex Murdaugh hid $4-million settlement from household of his late housekeeper, her son testifies

CNN  — 

Disgraced South Carolina legal professional Alex Murdaugh by no means advised the household of his late housekeeper that he collected greater than $Four million in insurance coverage settlements after she fell at his dwelling, in accordance with testimony at his double homicide trial Friday.

Exterior the presence of the jury, Decide Clifton Newman heard testimony about Murdaugh’s alleged monetary schemes because the court docket weighs whether or not to permit the admission of such proof.

Prosecutors need the proof of monetary wrongdoing admitted to point out that the scion of one of many state’s strongest households was, of their phrases, a determined thief on the verge of being uncovered on the time of the 2021 murders of his spouse and grownup son.

Protection attorneys have portrayed the defendant as a loving father and husband being prosecuted after a poorly dealt with investigation whereas the actual killers stay at giant.

Michael Satterfield, a son of Gloria Satterfield, who labored as housekeeper for the Murdaugh household for greater than 20 years, testified within the second week of the homicide trial. She died just a few weeks after a fall on the Murdaugh dwelling in 2018.

Satterfield’s son advised the court docket that Murdaugh supplied to “go after my insurance coverage firm” to assist their household with medical payments and different bills.

Michael Satterfield testified that Murdaugh at one level stated Satterfield and his brother might every get $100,000 from the insurance coverage firm. They by no means acquired the cash, he testified. And Murdaugh by no means talked about a $5 million umbrella coverage that he had along with a coverage for a smaller quantity.

In June 2021, Michael Satterfield testified, his household heard their case was settled however Murdaugh didn’t disclose that he had collected on two settlements – one for greater than $500,000 and one other for $3.eight million.

“Did he get your permission to steal your cash?” Waters requested.


“Did you ever get one cent from Alex Murdaugh?” Waters requested later.


In December 2021, an legal professional for the Satterfield household stated Murdaugh agreed to a $4.Three million settlement with the household. He additionally issued an apology to the Satterfields.

Financial institution CEO takes stand exterior jury’s presence

The primary witness known as Friday, additionally exterior the jury’s presence, was Jan Malinowski, president and CEO of Palmetto State Financial institution. Palmetto’s former president, Russell Laffitte, was convicted of six counts of monetary fraud crimes in November.

Malinowski, who testified at Laffitte’s trial, advised the court docket that Murdaugh’s mounting debt to the financial institution was frequently lined, with out justification, by loans from Laffite.

In August 2021, two months after the murders, Murdaugh’s account had an overdraft of greater than $350,000, Malinowski testified. Laffitte responded with a $400,000 switch to the defendant’s account.

Murdaugh on the time owed the financial institution greater than $Four million, Malinowski testified.

Would the loans have stored coming had the financial institution identified “that Murdaugh had been stealing cash from his companions or … his shoppers?” requested Creighton Waters, a prosecutor with the South Carolina Lawyer Basic’s Workplace – which is prosecuting the case due to the Murdaugh household’s lengthy ties with the native solicitor’s workplace.

“No sir,” the CEO replied.

Waters, eliciting laughter within the courtroom, stated the financial institution had “maybe probably the most beneficiant overdraft coverage ever seen.”

“Fairly probably,” Malinowski replied with a slight smile.

Prosecutors, in pretrial filings, accuse Murdaugh of killing his spouse, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and his 22-year-old son Paul Murdaugh to distract consideration from alleged monetary crimes, which the state contends had been about to come back to gentle after they had been killed on June 7, 2021.

Along with the homicide counts, he faces 99 expenses associated to these purported schemes.

Protection fights admissibility of fraud proof

A pretrial movement from the state contended “the murders served as Murdaugh’s means to shift the main focus away from himself and purchase some further time to attempt to forestall his monetary crimes from being uncovered, which, if revealed, would have resulted in private authorized and monetary spoil for Murdaugh.”

The protection has fought the admissibility of the proof within the homicide case, asserting the fraud circumstances are irrelevant to the query of Murdaugh’s guilt within the murders of his spouse and son.

Murdaugh, who was disbarred amid a mountain of allegations of white-collar theft and fraud, faces 99 expenses stemming from 19 grand jury indictments, together with allegedly defrauding his shoppers and former regulation agency of almost $9 million, in accordance with the legal professional basic’s workplace.

Underneath every case, Murdaugh faces the opportunity of two sentences of life in jail with out the opportunity of parole if convicted.

On Thursday, the chief monetary officer of Murdaugh’s former regulation agency testified about confronting the now-disbarred legal professional about lacking funds the morning his spouse and son had been killed.

Jeanne Seckinger, CFO of the agency previously often known as PMPED, testified exterior the jury’s presence.

The morning of the murders, Seckinger confronted Murdaugh about $792,000 in lacking funds, she stated Thursday, testifying that authorized charges ought to have been made payable to the regulation agency – renamed to Parker Legislation Group after Murdaugh’s ouster – and to not particular person attorneys.

However Seckinger and different members of the agency realized in Might 2021 they’d not acquired a charge verify stemming from a settlement signed in a case Murdaugh shared with one other legal professional, Seckinger testified, which was a priority.

On the time, Murdaugh was going through a lawsuit from the household of 19-year-old Mallory Seashore, who was killed in February 2019 when a ship, owned by Murdaugh and allegedly pushed by Paul, struck a bridge piling.

Murdaugh’s monetary data – which state court docket filings stated “would expose (Murdaugh) for his years of alleged misdeeds” – might have been disclosed following a listening to within the civil case scheduled for June 10, 2021, three days after the killings.

However the June 10 listening to was canceled after Maggie and Paul’s deaths, Seckinger stated Thursday, and the agency opted to not confront Murdaugh in regards to the lacking cash.

Finally, the agency did confront Murdaugh in regards to the lacking cash and “it was my understanding that Alex admitted it,” Seckinger testified.

Earlier than the agency might announce Murdaugh’s resignation, nonetheless, Seckinger testified she heard Murdaugh had been shot whereas on the aspect of the highway. Murdaugh later advised authorities he conspired with a former consumer to kill him as a part of an insurance coverage fraud scheme, purportedly so his surviving son might gather a $10 million life insurance coverage payout.

Ballistics knowledgeable testifies about casings at crime scene

Lastly, the court docket on Friday heard from a ballistics knowledgeable who advised the court docket the .300 Blackout rifle cartridge casings discovered close to Maggie’s physique had similar markings to older casings discovered close to the Murdaugh dwelling in addition to at a capturing vary on their property.

The older casings discovered close to the home and within the capturing vary “had those self same matching mechanism marks to conclude they’d been loaded into, extracted and ejected from the identical firearm as these on the crime scene round Margaret Murdaugh’s physique,” Paul Greer, a firearm examiner with the South Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division, testified.

The prosecution has stated Maggie was killed with a .300 Blackout AR-15 rifle that was a “household weapon” however the weapon has but to be discovered.

Throughout cross-examination by the protection on Friday, Greer stated it’s “onerous to say” whether or not completely different .300 Blackout rifles might create the identical markings on casings – however reaffirmed he was assured in his findings.

Greer check fired one .300 Blackout rifle discovered within the gun room on the Murdaugh property and stated the outcomes had been inconclusive on whether or not its ejected casings had been a precise match with the casings discovered round Maggie’s physique – however he stated if the casings weren’t from that actual weapon, they got here from one similar to it.

Prosecutors have additionally stated the Murdaughs owned different AR-style rifles, together with one Murdaugh purchased his son to exchange one other that went lacking. The prosecution has stated the substitute is “nowhere to be discovered.”

Greer had related testimony when the protection requested if Paul was killed with the camouflage-patterned gun Alex Murdaugh had on him when first responders arrived on the crime scene. The knowledgeable stated he check fired that gun and the outcomes had been inconclusive. Greer testified he couldn’t inform whether or not the casings had been a match, however that it was doable the gun – or a weapon with related traits – killed Paul.

CNN’s Randi Kaye contributed to this report.

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