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‘I Was Set Up’: Alex Murdaugh’s Alleged Shooter Says He’s Just the Fall Guy in Suicide Plot

·5 min read
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Colleton County, S.C. Detention Center
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Colleton County, S.C. Detention Center

The alleged drug dealer and accused shooter of Alex Murdaugh, who authorities say conspired with the South Carolina lawyer in a jaw-dropping assisted suicide plot to collect millions in insurance money, is speaking out.

In a porch-side interview with the New York Post, Curtis Edward Smith, 61, insists on his innocence and claims he was set up by the prominent legal family that has held sway in the Lowcountry area for decades. Authorities say Murdaugh, 54, admitted to orchestrating the Sept. 4 attack—which involved providing Smith with a gun to shoot him in the head and slashing his own tires—in the hope that his death would lead to a $10 million insurance payout that would go to his sole surviving son, Buster.

Alex Murdaugh Finally Arrested for Trying to Orchestrate His Own Killing

“It was the craziest situation I ever been involved with. I was set up to be the fall guy. And those damn pictures of me in the newspaper! I was looking at them this morning. They didn’t let me take a damn shower!” Smith told the outlet on Friday. “I know what they’re trying to say about me and it ain’t true.”

While prosecutors allege that Smith has admitted to his role in the scheme, Murdaugh has been fingered as the mastermind. On Thursday, Murdaugh was charged with a slew of crimes associated with the foiled plot. After posting his $20,000 bond, he returned to an out-of-state rehab facility just hours after surrendering to authorities in Hampton County.

Murdaugh’s lawyer, Jim Griffin, declined The Daily Beast’s request for comment on Smith’s allegations.

The shocking details of Murdaugh’s twisted plot are just the latest in the family’s saga that already included a double murder, drug addiction, and allegations of embezzlement.

Murduagh’s family was first thrust into the national spotlight in June, after the father-of-two discovered his 22-year-old son, Paul, and his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, shot to death near the dog kennels of the family’s sprawling hunting estate. The murder occurred as Paul was awaiting trial for his role in a 2019 drunken boating accident that killed a teenage girl.

Smith told The Post on Friday that he has nothing to do with the Murdaugh family murders.

As authorities continue to investigate the tragic slayings, Murdaugh’s lawyers claim their client spiraled—prompting him to orchestrate his own murder to ensure a payout for his living son.

But while prosecutors allege that Smith was involved in the twisted suicide plot, he told The Post that not only did he not collude with Murdaugh—but that he was set up by the once-powerful lawyer.

“I get a call from Alex that Saturday afternoon to come to where he was and I thought it was maybe to fix something,” Smith told the outlet. “I had no idea what he wanted, I just went over there.”

When he arrived at the rural backcountry road, Smith said that Murdaugh started waving around a gun. Smith said that he ran over and wrestled with Murdaugh to take the gun away from him, before the weapon “kind of went off above his head and I got scared to death and I ran to my truck and took off.”

Smith claims he took Murdaugh’s gun and threw it away.

Questions Swirl After Powerful Lawyer’s Wife, Son Are Killed Amid Fatal Boat Party Probe

“It was plain stupid, just plain stupid,” he said, admitting he doesn’t know if the bullet actually hit Murdaugh. Murdaugh’s lawyers also said they sustained a minor skull fracture and brain bleeding—though he did not have any visible wounds or a bandage during Thursday’s bond hearing.

According to authorities, Murdaugh called 911 claiming that he had been shot in the head while attempting to change a tire. The circumstances of the incident were shrouded in confusion—with Murdaugh’s legal team claiming a man in an unknown truck shot their client after asking if he had car trouble.

Shortly after the shooting incident, the attorney made a surprise announcement that he was quitting his family-founded law firm—Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick (PMPED)—and was entering rehab to confront his decades-long opioid addiction. According to his attorneys, Murdaugh told later authorities that Smith was his “primary” opioid supplier.

Hours later, however, the firm released their own statement with a different storyline: Murdaugh had actually been forced out days earlier after they discovered that he had “misappropriated funds.” During a Wednesday interview with NBC's Today, Murdaugh attorney Dick Harpootlian appeared to admit that Murdaugh used embezzled funds to write checks for his opioid addiction.

The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is now investigating the firm’s allegations. The same agency is also probing the death of a housekeeper on Murdaugh’s property three years ago.

“He has fallen from grace,” Harpootlian said during the Thursday hearing. “If anyone wants to see the fact of what opioid addiction does—you’re looking at it.”

Henry Vandermark, a Hampton County resident who bought Smith’s house over a decade ago, told The Daily Beast he was shocked to hear about Smith’s involvement in Murdaugh’s scheme.

“He was always pleasant and kind to me. If we saw each other at Walmart he would always stop and ask how I was doing,” Vandermark said on Friday, adding that he could not see Smith “doing something like this.” Vandermark added that he did not know if Smith was involved in drug dealing.

“I’ve never hurt anyone. It’s that simple. It’s a bad deal. A really bad deal. I guess I was naive for getting caught up in this damn thing, too,” Smith told The Post, adding that he is not Murdaugh’s dealer as his legal team has argued.

But despite being in legal hot water, Smith admits he does not hold a grudge against Murdaugh.

“I never had a reason not to like him before,” Smith, who does not yet have a lawyer, said. “I understand he’s in fight or flight mode and he wanted me to be the heavyweight in the water so he could fly.”

“I wouldn’t advise him to try to set me up,” Smith added. “I’d strongly advise him against that.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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