Alex Murdaugh Was Paying Up to $50,000 a Week for Drugs, His Lawyer Says

Alex Murdaugh, who is currently on trial for the murders of his wife and son, has admitted to having a severe opioid addiction

Murdaugh Killings, Walterboro, United States - 07 Feb 2023
Photo: Joshua Boucher/AP/Shutterstock

When Alex Murdaugh was arrested on dozens of charges in 2021 — including the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul — his lawyers publicly claimed that he had been battling opioid addiction for years.

During Murdaugh's murder trial on Wednesday, jurors heard more details about the alleged addiction — including the claim that he spent a staggering $50,000 a week on drugs, which could have been a motive for someone else to kill Maggie and Paul, according to Murdaugh's defense.

Defense attorney Jim Griffin claimed that Murdaugh allegedly purchased the drugs from his cousin, Curtis "Eddie" Smith, who's accused of being involved in a bizarre murder-for-hire plot in which he allegedly shot Murdaugh in the head — at Murdaugh's directive — so that Murdaugh's surviving son could collect an insurance policy.

Griffin mentioned Murdaugh's habits while cross-examining SLED special agent David Owen, who is the lead investigator in the murder case. He insinuated that the money was being paid to drug smugglers with Smith as the middleman — but that Smith was skimming some of the funds.

Griffin asked Owen why authorities didn't treat Smith and alleged members of his gang as suspects in the 2021 murders. He also asked Owen why Smith's DNA was not tested against evidence taken from the crime scene.

Owen reiterated that the only suspect in the case has always been Alex Murdaugh.

Alex Murdaugh, Curtis Edward Smith
Alex Murdaugh, Curtis Edward Smith. Facebook; Colleton County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

The line of questioning prompted judge Clifton Newman to rule that details about the alleged murder-for-hire plot — which Murdaugh's attorneys have admitted Murdaugh concocted — could now be brought into testimony. The judge had previously ruled that the alleged plot was inadmissible, but that Murdaugh's lawyers had "opened the door" to allowing the testimony.

Murdaugh, 54, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two related weapons charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is in the midst of a protracted trial.

Once a prominent attorney in South Carolina, Murdaugh has been disbarred from practicing law. He faces more than 85 criminal charges in addition to the murder counts, many of which were uncovered after police began investigating the family after the murders. Those cases will be tried after the murder case is resolved.

The trial is expected to last for at least two more weeks.

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