Judge reinstates bond for man accused of conspiring with Alex Murdaugh
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge has granted bond for the man indicted with convicted killer Alex Murdaugh on multiple charges last summer.
Curtis Eddie Smith was indicted by a South Carolina Grand Jury on June 23, 2022, on four counts of money laundering, three counts of forgery, trafficking methamphetamine 10-28 grams, one count of unlawful possession of a schedule II narcotic and possession of marijuana and two counts of criminal conspiracy.
Judge Clifton Newman initially set bond at $250,000 for Smith but then revoked that bond in August after lead prosecutor Creighton Waters argued Smith had violated his house arrest and misrepresented how much money he had at a prior bond hearing. Waters told the court Smith had nearly $80,000 in his bank account when he told the judge he did not have any money.
The defense claimed they did not mean to misrepresent and that Smith is using money from a settlement check to pay off debts.
Attorneys told the court at Monday’s hearing in Columbia that Smith had been behind bars for 235 days and had gained approximately 55 pounds while behind bars.
“My sugar’s off the chart, my blood pressure’s off the chart,” Smith said. He also said he has a titanium rod in his back and has not been able to seek treatment for pain for eight months.
Near the end of the bond hearing, two security guards brought over a chair for Smith to sit in. He was only sitting for a couple of seconds, but acted as if he couldn’t stand for long periods of time. When he walked in and out of the courtroom, it was evident that it was hard for him to move up and down the steps.
Smith claims that his bad health is for not receiving enough medical attention in jail.
Although Smith will now be on house arrest, he’s allowed to leave for church, medical appointments and a few other exceptions. Smith stressed that he needs to work to keep his health in order. Newman says any work-related travel must be approved by the court.
“I think it’s safe to say that he’s certainly had some medical struggles that has made it ongoing and difficult over the last several months that have only gotten worse,” Jarrett Bouchette, Smith’s attorney with The Floyd Law Firm, said. “So, I’ll just leave it at that.”
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said the criminal conspiracy charges allege 437 checks totaling approximately $2.4 million went from Murdaugh to Smith between 2013 and 2021. Murdaugh and Smith were also indicated in an alleged conspiracy to purchase and distribute Oxycodone.
The money laundering charges were in connection to the alleged disposition of the checks while the forgery charges alleged Smith forged the endorsements on some of the checks.
Smith still has to follow the same conditions as when the bond was originally set, such as remaining under house arrest, random drug testing and no contact with any co-defendants or witnesses, amongst others.
“I understand the significance of these cases as a tie-in with Alex Murdaugh,” Smith said. “And I totally understand the importance of the letter of my bond. If I get on my property, ain’t nobody gonna drag me off.”
Bouchette and the rest of Smith’s legal team say they expect Smith to be out of jail hopefully by the end of Monday and they asked repeatedly for no media to appear at Smith’s home.
“As this last year, two years, has played out, a lot of things have changed,” Bouchette said. “A lot of the evidence has come to light. So, we think that is going to continue to happen over the next six months to a year.”
Smith had been previously arrested and charged in connection with a shooting during Labor Day weekend of 2021, nearly three months after the deadly shootings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh at the Murdaugh’s rural Colleton County hunting property.
A Hampton County Grand Jury indicted Smith and Murdaugh in what investigators called a failed suicide-for-hire scheme.
Smith was charged with pointing and presenting a firearm, conspiracy, assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature and false claim for payment.
Investigators alleged Murdaugh, who was indicted for conspiracy, false claim for payment and filing a false police report in the shooting, provided Smith with a gun on Sept. 4, 2021, and directed Smith to shoot him in the head for the purpose of causing Murdaugh’s death and allowing for the payment of a stated “death benefit beneficiary.” Investigators say Murdaugh admitted to agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division that the scheme was to help his surviving son collect a life insurance policy.
The indictment alleges that Smith shot Murdaugh in the head on Salkehatchie Road in Hampton County.
The defense says they still have to schedule a status conference, possibly on April 21, that would discuss his state-wide grand jury charges. This does not include the set of charges from the road-side shooting. This would be held in the county where the crime took place. The defense says they do not know if this will be open to the public at this time.
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