Convicted killer Alex Murdaugh pleads not guilty to federal financial crimes, but lawyer says that could soon change
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Convicted killer Alex Murdaugh formally pleaded not guilty to a series of federal financial crimes at an arraignment hearing in Charleston on Wednesday afternoon, but his defense team suggested that could soon change.
This was Murdaugh’s first appearance before a judge since March 3, when Judge Clifton Newman sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences for the killings of his wife Maggie and son Paul after a weeks-long trial.
Murdaugh said few words during the hearing, but appeared energetic, and greeted prosecutors and his defense team with pleasantries.
His attorney Jim Griffin did most of the talking and said that while his client is pleading not guilty at this time, he would be requesting a change of plea hearing in the near future.
Murdaugh’s 22-count indictment last week includes his alleged theft of $4.3 million in settlement funds from the family of his longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, and his alleged money laundering scheme to steal millions from clients through a fake bank account he set up to mimic a legitimate structured settlement firm.
The Murdaugh defense team has said they expect to resolve these charges without going to trial, and that their client is cooperating with federal agencies in their investigation.
The disbarred Lowcountry attorney appeared before Magistrate Judge Molly Cherry in an orange Department of Corrections jumpsuit.
Murdaugh’s hair, which was shaved for his official Department of Corrections mugshot, was noticeably longer.
He answered Cherry’s questions enthusiastically with “Yes, ma’am” responses.
Murdaugh’s defense attorney Dick Harpootlian declined to comment to the press after the hearing, and said, “We’ll do our talking in the courtroom.”
These charges are separate from the dozens of state charges against Murdaugh, which are pending.
Taking the stand in his own defense during his double-murder trial, he admitted to stealing money from both clients and his law firm.
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