April 21, 2024

Murdaugh jurors unlikely to hear from Curtis ‘Cousin Eddie’ Smith at murder trial

Alex Murdaugh’s alleged drug dealer and accused hit man Curtis “Cousin Eddie” Smith is unlikely to take the stand at the disbarred attorney’s double murder trial.

Murdaugh is accused of gunning down his 22-year-old son Paul Murdaugh and his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, in June 2021, at the family’s hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina.

More than two months after the slayings, Murdaugh allegedly hired Smith to shoot him in the head on the side of the road so his living son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect a $10 million insurance policy.

But Smith missed and Murdaugh was airlifted to a local hospital.

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Judge Clifton Newman ruled Wednesday that jurors won’t get to hear about the botched suicide-for-hire plot.

“This evidence I find goes beyond motive,” Newman said in the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, after hearing from both sides. “I believe to allow this evidence in is a bridge too far.”

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Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters had argued that the bizarre scheme showed Murdaugh’s “consciousness of guilt.”

Waters said the state’s focus is not on the shooting itself, but Murdaugh’s pattern of lying and portraying himself as a victim when he’s backed in a corner.Β 

The day before the bungled Labor Day shooting, Murdaugh’s law firm forced him to resign after learning he’d embezzled millions from clients’ settlements.

After surviving the poorly orchestrated hit, Murdaugh claimed he was the victim of a shooting by an unknown assailant before later confessing to the failed plot.

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Defense lawyer Dick Harpootlian argued that the shooting was about a financial crime and has nothing to do with the double slaying of his wife and son.

“We’re here to try a murder,” Harpootlian said.Β 

Smith is on the prosecution’s witness list. There’s a slim possibility Smith could still take the stand to testify about other matters.

In June 2022, he and Smith were indicted on felony charges β€” including one for the distribution and purchase of the narcotic oxycodone.Β 

Murdaugh had written $2.4 million worth of checks to Smith, according to court papers.

They were also indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges for the suicide-for-hire scheme.

The testimony of Smith, Murdaugh’s former client and a distant cousin, was considered a potential highlight of the trial.Β 

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In pretrial motions, the defense suggested that Smith might be the real killer after he allegedly failed a polygraph test. Smith has accused Murdaugh of setting him up.Β 

“It was the craziest situation I have ever been involved with,” Smith told the New York Post. “I was set up to be the fall guy.”

Harpootlian said on Tuesday evening after the jurors were dismissed for the day that Smith had given “six versions” of the botched roadside shooting.

With a broad smile, the veteran defense lawyer giddily said he was “looking forward to the cross-examination of Mr. Smith.”

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