Alex Murdaugh took a universal plea deal Friday that covers dozens of financial crimes from indictments in six counties in exchange for nearly three decades in prison.
The convicted killer, wearing an orange prison-issue jumpsuit, admitted to 22 counts – including breach of trust, money laundering, forgery, and tax evasion.
“How do you plead?” asked Circuit Judge Clifton Newman in Beaufort County, South Carolina.
“I plead guilty, Your Honor,” he replied. He’s scheduled to be sentenced to 27.5 years in prison on Nov. 28.
“I agree that I wrongly took all of that money, Your Honor, and did all of those crimes,” he added later in the hearing.
He was supposed to go to trial Nov. 27 on some of the charges stemming from the theft of more than $4 million from the estate of his late housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
After she tripped and fell on his property and later died, Murdaugh urged her family to sue him. Instead of turning over the money to her two sons, he and his cronies pocketed the settlement.
“In the Satterfield case he stole every dime, every dime,” South Carolina prosecutor Creighton Waters said.
He outlined Murdaugh’s various schemes to swindle his personal injury clients, his law firm and his own brother.
“It was so easy for him to smooth talk and fast talk them,” Waters said of Murdaugh’s clients. “Ultimately, what it really boiled down to was such a sense of entitlement and lack of accountability.”
Waters clarified that the plea deal does not in any way involve Murdaugh’s motion for a new double murder trial.
Newman sentenced Murdaugh to two life terms in prison in March for fatally shooting his wife, Maggie, and his older son, Paul, after jurors returned a guilty verdict.
The jurist recused himself from presiding over all pending matters in the murder case.
Defense lawyers Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian filed a motion to overturn the verdict based on allegations that Colleton County court clerk Becky Hill had tampered with jurors by trying to sway them toward a conviction. She has denied the allegations.
Murdaugh previously pleaded guilty to 22 counts of financial fraud and money laundering in federal court.