Convicted killer, disbarred attorney, and accused swindler Alex Murdaugh entered a “not guilty” plea in response to a 22-count indictment levied against him in federal court in Charleston on May 31. 

Murdaugh, convicted of killing his wife and son in March, was indicted by a federal grand jury in charges released last week. The federal case alleges that Murdaugh had been stealing from his law clients as far back as 2005 and allegedly enlisted the help of former Palmetto State Bank CEO, Russell Laffitte and Murdaugh’s personal friend and fellow attorney Cory Fleming, to allegedly defraud clients and steal millions of dollars. 

Murdaugh, who was shackled at the waist, was escorted into court by four US Marshalls — two of which stayed within arm’s reach of him at all times. He wore a prison orange jumpsuit and white tennis shoes, with his glasses perched upon his head. 

Murdaugh’s hair has grown out since his South Carolina Department of Corrections mugshot taken following the murder conviction in March. 

As Murdaugh entered the courtroom, he quietly (but warmly) greeted members of the prosecution team, but his face fell stony again as soon as he passed them. 

Murdaugh’s attorneys — Dick Harpootlian, Jim Griffin, and Phil Barber — were on hand for the hearing, though Griffin made it a point to put on the record that they were only there for a “general appearance.” Griffin, who was the only attorney to speak for Murdaugh, also noted that while Murdaugh entered a not-guilty plea, they expect that to change “in the very near future.”

This new indictment specifically mentions the Gloria Satterfield case and the settlements regarding Hannah and Alaynia Plyler, the estate of Donna Badger, and the estate of Hakeem Pinckney. 

Fleming, Murdaugh’s alleged co-conspirator, pleaded guilty on May 25 to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud relating to his actions in the Gloria Satterfield case.

Following Murdaugh’s hearing, the defense team crossed the street to a coffee shop where they sat on an outdoor patio in full view of the media while insisting they would take no questions. 

“We’ll do our talking in the courtroom,” Harpootlian said before the defense team crossed the street.

Contact Beth Braden

Beth Braden

Beth Braden is an award-winning journalist with experience covering government, education and crime and courts for more than 10 years. In addition to following breaking news and writing feature stories about life in her home state of Tennessee, her by-line appears on several internationally known websites.

Beth is passionate about communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand manner and she loves to pore over public records and court documents as she seeks out patterns and context to share with her audience. In her spare time, she enjoys quilting, strange museums, and good cups of coffee.

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