Alex Murdaugh's Lawyer Admits Botched Suicide Plot, Says Client Was Depressed After Murders of Wife, Son

Alex Murdaugh has not been charged with a crime in connection with the botched suicide plot he hatched

A lawyer for Alex Murdaugh admitted on the Today show that Murdaugh paid a man to kill him in a botched plot for his son to claim a $10 million life insurance policy.

According to attorney Dick Harpootlian, Murdaugh's addiction to opioids and his depression following the June murders of his wife and son drove him to concoct the scheme.

Murdaugh "clearly knew what he's done was wrong," Harpootlian told Today. Harpootlian added that at the time of the Sept. 4 shooting, Murdaugh was in "a massive depression" and was in withdrawal from opioids.

Murdaugh, 53, was shot on a rural road. At the time, he told police the shooting happened after he stopped to change a tire. Police described his bullet wound as "superficial." On Tuesday, after the arrest of the man Murdaugh allegedly paid to shoot him, police described the shooting as a botched "assisted suicide."

Alex Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh. Facebook

Harpootlian told Today his client wanted his son to claim life insurance monies, but "believed that $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion."

"Suicide exclusions are only good for two years, and he didn't realize that. So he arranged to have this guy shoot him," Harpootlian added.

"It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child," Harpootlian continued. "He didn't want law enforcement spending time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul."

For more on Alex Murdaugh and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

On Tuesday, Curtis Edward Smith, 61, the man Murdaugh allegedly hired to kill him, was arrested by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.

According to Smith's arrest affidavit, which was obtained by PEOPLE, Murdaugh allegedly provided Smith with a firearm and directed him to shoot him in the head in order for his son to receive about $10 million in life insurance.

Authorities allege that Murdaugh admitted to the scheme with Smith to SLED agents on Monday. The following day, Smith allegedly admitted to being on the scene when the shooting took place and to disposing of the gun afterward.

No charges against Murdaugh have been announced, but police say additional charges involving the case are expected to come as the investigation continues.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Smith was also charged with distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana, according to SLED. He is currently being held at the Colleton County Detention Center.

As of now it is unclear if Smith has obtained legal representation. Attorneys for Murdaugh have not yet responded to PEOPLE's request for comment on the recent allegations concerning the shooting.

Murdaugh Family
The Murdaugh family. Maggie Murdaugh/Facebook

SLED is also investigating allegations that Murdaugh stole funds from the prestigious law firm his great-grandfather started more than 100 years ago. Prior to his shooting, members of the Hampton law firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth & Detrick, confronted Murdaugh about missing money, which could exceed $1 million, before notifying law enforcement and the South Carolina Bar Association.

Jim Griffin, another attorney for Murdaugh, told PEOPLE in a statement at the time that "Alex resigned from the firm after being accused of diverting lawyer fees. These allegations prompted him to confront his dependency and he voluntarily checked into an in-patient substance abuse rehab facility after being discharged from the hospital Monday."

Following the allegations, Murdaugh was suspended from practicing law in South Carolina. On Sept. 8, five days after being accused of diverting funds from his law firm, the South Carolina Supreme Court placed him on an interim suspension, according to an order obtained by PEOPLE.

Murdaugh's shooting also came less than three months after his wife Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh and son Paul Murdaugh were murdered on the grounds of the family's 1,770-acre hunting lodge.

Authorities have also not identified a motive or a suspect in the killings of Maggie and Paul, but their deaths spotlighted a string of mysterious deaths surrounding the family.

Related Articles