Wednesday’s hearing was slated as a bond hearing, but Murdaugh and his attorneys requested a formal arraignment. Asked if he was guilty or not guilty, Murdaugh, who appeared in the Walterboro courtroom wearing a white shirt and khaki pants, responded, “Not guilty.”
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found dead the night of June 7, 2021, after Murdaugh called 911 to report he had discovered their bodies at the family’s property in Islandton, South Carolina.
He has denied involvement in their deaths, saying he was visiting his mother at the time they were killed.
The murder charges are just the latest — though by far the most serious — brought against the now-disbarred scion of one of the state’s most powerful political families. Over three generations, a member of the Murdaugh family served as solicitor of the 14th Judicial Circuit, which oversees prosecutions for several counties across a swath of the South Carolina low country.
Indeed, in the courtroom where Murdaugh appeared Wednesday, a portrait of his late grandfather, one of the solicitors, was hanging on the wall.
Murdaugh was already being held in Columbia on a $7 million bond for other alleged financial crimes tied, in part, to allegations the once-prominent attorney stole millions in death settlement funds from the family of his late housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
South Carolina authorities opened an investigation into Satterfield’s death last year after questions emerged about her death and how it was handled. The housekeeper died at the Murdaugh’s home in 2018 in what Murdaugh described as a “trip and fall” accident.
According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Murdaugh coordinated with Satterfield’s family to sue himself and reach an insurance settlement, saying he would give the family the proceeds. But he secretly deposited about $3 million of that money into an account he owned, per affidavits released by SLED.
It’s just one of the twists prompted by the Murdaugh saga: Authorities also reopened the investigation into a 19-year-old’s unsolved death in 2015; Murdaugh resigned as an attorney for a prominent legal group; he admitted he struggled with opioid abuse; and he faces dozens of charges accusing him of stealing money from clients.
CNN’s Dianne Gallagher reported from Walterboro, South Carolina, while Dakin Andone reported and wrote this story in New York. CNN’s Ray Sanchez and Randi Kaye contributed to this report.