Alex Murdaugh, 55, is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for the 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul
Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced South Carolina attorney who was convicted of killing his wife and youngest son earlier this year, allegedly told his cousin to shoot him because he believed prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him of the murders, his cousin claims.
Curtis "Eddie" Smith, 62, Murdaugh’s cousin and former client, dropped the bombshell accusation in the second season of the Netflix series Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal, which was released Wednesday and recaps Murdaugh’s highly-publicized six-week murder trial.
In August 2021, Murdaugh allegedly tried to stage his own death so that his one surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, then 26, could benefit from a $10 million life insurance settlement, according to past reporting by PEOPLE. According to prosecutors, Murdaugh had Smith shoot him on the side of the road, but the shooting was unsuccessful and Murdaugh suffered only superficial wounds.
In the episode, Smith says he asked Murdaugh why he wanted him to shoot him.
“Cause they’re gonna to be able to prove that I was responsible for Maggie and Paul,” Murdaugh allegedly replied.
“And I knew I hadn’t shot him,” Smith says. “There wasn't no blood on him. There wasn't no blood on me. So I went home.”
Smith alleges a paranoid Murdaugh asked him to meet him at a funeral home to discuss the botched suicide-for-hire plot ahead of time.
At this point, it has been about two months since Maggie and Paul were found shot dead near the dog kennels of the Murdaugh family's 1,770-acre hunting estate in Islandton, S.C. Authorities said Murdaugh killed his wife and son as his substance abuse and financial problems became overwhelming.
“And when I pulled up there, and I rolled the window down, He's coming up to my window with a gun,” Smith claims in the episode. “I figured I put some sense into him. And I fired it in the air. All 6-foot-5 or -6 of him hit the asphalt, like that…”
On Sept. 4, 2021, Murdaugh called 911 to say he'd been shot by someone driving by in a pickup truck. But authorities — and even Murdaugh's lawyer — previously said Murdaugh engineered the shooting himself, PEOPLE reported in 2021.
Smith was arrested on Sept. 14, 2021 and charged with assisted suicide, aggravated assault and battery and insurance fraud in connection with the shooting. According to Today, Smith still has not yet entered pleas to any of the charges.
Smith previously told Today that he did not pull the trigger.
"I didn't shoot him," Smith said in 2021, per the outlet. "I'm innocent. If I'd have shot him, he'd be dead. He's alive."
Shortly after Smith’s arrest, Murdaugh admitted to his role in the failed suicide-for-hire plot, PEOPLE previously reported.
His lawyer, Dick Harpootlian told Today in 2021 that his client wanted his surviving son to claim life insurance monies but "believed that $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion," not realizing the exclusion had expired.
The shocking claim by Smith was brought to light just one day before a judge accepted a guilty plea from Murdaugh on charges of fraud and money laundering, according to ABC News 4 and The Associated Press.
“I want to take responsibility," Murdaugh said in court on Thursday, The Associated Press reports. "I want my son to see me take responsibility. It’s my hope that by taking responsibility that the people I’ve hurt can begin to heal.”
The 22-count federal indictment issued in May includes charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and more. It states that Murdaugh “engaged in three different schemes” to get money and property from his clients who were working with him on personal injury cases.
It’s unclear when Murdaugh will be sentenced in that case. Some of the charges are punishable by maximum sentences of up to 30 years, as well as fines that could total to millions of dollars.
Murdaugh was convicted in March of both murders. At one point during the trial, Murdaugh took the stand in his own defense and admitted that he had lied about his whereabouts on the day his wife and son were killed. He cited his mistrust of police and paranoia that stemmed from a 20-year opioid addiction, PEOPLE previously reported.
Despite this, Murdaugh has denied killing them.
"I'm innocent," he told Judge Clifton Newman prior to sentencing. "I would never hurt my wife Maggie. And I would never hurt my son 'Paw Paw.'"
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