South Carolina jurors on Thursday heard Alex Murdaugh admit he asked his drug dealer to shoot him in the head so his son could collect a hefty life insurance payout—three months after prosecutors allege the disgraced former lawyer murdered his wife and son.
“I was in a very bad place. I thought it would be better for me not to be here anymore. I thought that it would make it easier on my family for me to be dead,” Murdaugh said in a Sept. 13, 2021, interview with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. “I told him that things were getting to be really bad and it would be better off if I was not here. I asked him to shoot me.”
Murdaugh’s admission came just nine days after he called police to report that a “very nice male” shot him on a South Carolina back road. Murdaugh then repeated the story several times that day, including to agent Ryan Kelly. Kelly testified on Thursday that Murdaugh described the suspect as a white male suspect who was in his “30 or 40s” and had “close-cropped hair and facial hair” and drove a newer model dark blue Chevy to pick up with “sport tires.”
The audio was played for jurors on the fourth week of Murdaugh’s trial for allegedly killing his wife and son. Prosecutors allege Murdaugh murdered 52-year-old Maggie and 22-year-old Paul in a convoluted scheme to hide his financial crimes. On Thursday, prosecutors revealed to jurors what happened to Murdaugh after the murders and how he was still fearful of exposure that he had been stealing millions from his clients and former law firm for years.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to four counts in connection with double homicide. He and Smith are also separately charged with a slew of other crimes, including drug trafficking, money laundering, and the roadside shooting. (Kelly said Thursday that Smith denied any involvement in the double homicide; Smith’s lawyer declined to comment.)
While Murdaugh’s defense team has already publicly admitted that their client hatched the roadside shooting in an insurance scheme, the recording played in court on Thursday is the first time the public has heard Murdaugh confess to it himself.
While recovering at an Atlanta rehab center, Murdaugh and his lawyers called Kelly and another SLED agent to discuss the roadside shooting. Before Murdaugh was questioned, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian stressed that his client would not “talk about what happened” on June 7, 2021, the day of the homicides, or about his finances.
Murdaugh then detailed how on the morning of Sept. 4, he met with his best friend Chris Wilson. Wilson previously testified that he confronted Murdaugh that morning after he learned that the former lawyer had stolen $192,000 from him. During the confrontation on his porch, Wilson noted, that Murdaugh had admitted to his opioid addiction and that he had stolen money from his firm and clients for years.
After the upsetting conversation, Murdaugh said in the audio, he called Smith and asked him to “shoot” him—a request he said Smith was “a little surprised” about but eventually agreed to. Noting that he had previously represented Smith and knew him for years, Murdaugh told investigators in the audio that he would also pay him “several times a week for pills, sometimes in cash but often with checks.”
Murdaugh said that he then met up with Smith and gave him a .38 revolver before the pair drove out to Old Salkehatchie Road. He said he then got out of his own car and a hole in his tire with a knife before throwing it on the side of the road. Then, Murdaugh said in the interview, he stood close to Smith’s car and “he shot me.”
“He missed and hit me in the very back of the head,” Murdaugh said. “I lost my vision for a little bit. I’m not sure if it knocked me to the ground or not, but I was disoriented.”
Murdaugh claimed that his intent was to die on the back road so that his only surviving son, Buster, could collect his $10 million life insurance.
“I knew I was about to lose everything, and I figured he was better off that way than dealing with me,” Murdaugh told the agents, adding that Smith never tried to talk him out of it. When asked why he did not confess to the scheme right after he survived, Murdaugh simply said: “I don’t have a good reason. I was in a bad, bad, bad place.”