COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Former Hampton County attorney and convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh is asking for his confession in an insurance fraud and wrongful death case involving his late housekeeper to be void.
On February 2, 2018, the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield died at the family property known as Moselle. Conflicting accounts of how exactly she died have surfaced in the time since, but the consensus is that she fell down the stairs and hit her head. She died on February 26, 2018, leaving behind two sons.
Since Satterfield was employed by Murdaugh at the time, he sought a payout from his insurance company Nautilus and told Satterfield’s sons that he would secure them a large wrongful death settlement.
According to court documents, Murdaugh told the insurance adjuster that “Ms. Satterfield briefly regained consciousness before EMS arrived… and told him, but no one else, that Mr. Murdaugh’s dogs caused the fall.” Since “South Carolina law imposes a strict liability on dog owners,” he secured a payout of over $4.3 million.
However, none of the money ever reached Satterfield’s sons. The money was diverted into shell accounts held by Murdaugh.
In May of 2022, Murdaugh confessed to diverting the funds into his own shell accounts. Murdaugh does not dispute that he stole the money, which his lawyers blame on his decades of drug addiction:
“Put simply, the fact that Mr. Murdaugh lied about his own liability for Ms. Satterfield’s death to fraudulently obtain insurance proceeds to perpetuate his severe opioid drug habit, while highly disconcerting, is hardly unbelievable given Mr. Murdaugh’s admitted actions and financial dealings during this time. It is another chapter in a bleak and dispiriting story of a man brought to his knees by a crippling drug addiction, who also had the means and knowledge to effect great financial harm upon others to feed that addiction.”
He does, however, claim he wants to “set the record straight” on the circumstances of Satterfield’s death.
He admits that he lied to his insurance companies to secure a higher payout, but contends that he was not truly liable in Satterfield’s death, claiming she fell due to medical conditions and side effects of medications she was taking at the time.
In a 2019 mediation, a representative for Nautilus noted:
“Plaintiff [Ms. Satterfield] reported to neurosurgeon Dr. D’Agostino that she fell down several stairs, and she “did not know why she fell.” We know the Plaintiff had diabetic neuropathy and had complained of tingling in her feet. We also know that Plaintiff was on several medications, including amlodipine, and hydrochlorothiazide, which have side effects including dizziness. In fact, amlodipine states severe dizziness is one of the more serious side effects. There are multiple reasons why Plaintiff fell. In addition to the medications and her diabetes, Ms. Satterfield could have simply lost her balance.”
Murdaugh is arguing that his original confession should be void because it blamed Satterfield’s death on the dogs, which he claims is not accurate.
Additionally, the motion argues that letting the confession stand does not harm Murdaugh, but harms his other victims because the limited funds available will be stretched even further as Nautilus is seeking to recover the fraudulent $4 million payout from Murdaugh.
The motion argues that the false confession is to “the detriment of Mr. Murdaugh’s other
victims, who were defrauded of funds for legitimate claims. If the confessed judgment remains
in place, those victims will have their restitution substantially reduced when insurance companies
present claims for over $4 million of stolen money against the limited receivership estate.”
It goes on to explain that entities like Bank of America paid out significant sums to the Satterfields because they believed they may have some liability in Murdaugh’s scheme. However, had those entities “known the Satterfield family was not entitled to the money deposited into Mr. Murdaugh’s fake Forge account in the first place,” they likely would not have paid.
As such, the motion argues that “Nautilus has a compelling case for restitution,” and “the present judgment thus has the effect not of compensating the victims of Mr. Murdaugh’s financial crimes, but rather of forcing the actual victims of those crimes to seek recompense from a limited pool of money available to Mr. Murdaugh’s other victims.”
Murdaugh is asking for the judgment to be vacated so that the victims of his other crimes “might receive restitution according to their rightful share.”
Attorney Eric Bland — who represented the Satterfield family and was lambasted in the motion for allegedly making “extra-judicial statements” and improperly eliciting Murdaugh’s confession, — said that the motion is “yet another filing in a long line of rolls of legal toilet paper.”
He went on to say that Murdaugh’s attorneys are grasping at straws to defend a “client who is a liar, a thief and a twice-convicted murderer,” and that he looks forward to addressing the claims in court.