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Curtis ‘Cousin Eddie’ Smith makes bond in infamous roadside shooting case involving Alex Murdaugh

Curtis Edward Smith walks into court on April 3, 2023; Alex Murdaugh appears inset from a jailhouse mugshot

Curtis “Cousin Eddie” Edward Smith walks into court for a bond hearing on April 3, 2023. Alex Murdaugh, inset, appears in a pre-trial mugshot.

A former client of Alex Murdaugh’s, who is also the convicted murderer’s co-defendant in an infamous insurance fraud case, was granted bond by a judge in South Carolina on Monday.

Often referred to as Curtis Edward “Cousin Eddie” Smith, that former client is accused of helping the disgraced lawyer embark upon a would-be-but-ultimately-botched suicide attempt intended to reap a substantial windfall for Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster Murdaugh.

In September 2021, Alex Murdaugh was shot in the head on the side of the road. At the time, defense attorney Jim Griffin said his client had stopped to assess car trouble when a truck passed him, doubled back, and then an assailant got out and fired a single shot. The wound was superficial, authorities would later say. One week later, Alex Murdaugh confessed to hiring Smith to shoot and kill him to secure a $10 million life insurance payout, police claim. Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian later said his client, under the influence of opioids, mistakenly believed that the policy had a suicide clause that would have limited or prevented payments if he died by his own hands.

Smith, 62, is Alex Murdaugh’s distant cousin – and his alleged drug dealer. The defendant has publicly maintained his innocence in the roadside shooting case where he stands accused of numerous crimes including pointing a firearm at a person, and assisted suicide.

Smith insists he was a patsy set up by Alex Murdaugh to take the blame. He says that he only fired the weapon in the air once in an effort to scare some sense into the man who asked him to shoot and kill him. The defendant has not yet entered a formal plea in the case.

On Monday, before Colleton County Judge Clifton Newman, Smith complained of various ailments brought on by his confinement.

“My sugar is off the chart, blood pressure is off the chart,” the defendant said. “I got titanium rods and screws in my back, and I have not been able to get any medical treatment for my pain for eight months.”

The judge also quizzed the defendant about his visible weight gain since the last time he appeared in court. Smith replied that he had gained roughly 55 pounds since being incarcerated.

Attorneys on both sides testified to his cooperation with the state in the murder prosecution against Alex Murdaugh.

“He fully cooperated with us throughout this process and was willing to testify if called upon,” prosecutor John Meadors said. “Based upon my years of experience, I believe he would have testified truthfully.”

The state attorney went on to say that no promises had been made in the case but that prosecutors had expressed a willingness to explore the issue with Smith’s defense following Alex Murdaugh’s trial. After the trial, the prosecutor said, the defense brought the issue up and the state looked into it.

“He has cooperated completely,” Meadors said. “We’re asking your honor to take that into consideration. The state is asking your honor, respectfully, if you would reinstate his bond.”

Newman originally set Smith’s bond at $250,000. The bond was revoked by the judge in August 2022 after prosecutors claimed Smith had violated the terms of his house arrest by visiting grocery stores and private residences.

“Mr. Smith understands the parameters of the detention and the GPS monitoring,” defense attorney Aimee Zmroczek told the court. “As well as all of the other conditions – no guns – anything else that the court feels, felt like it can put in its order and anything else that the court may need to add.”

The bond was granted with strict conditions. Newman said that if any of those conditions were violated, he would be back in jail and that the court would extend “no deviation, no leniency, no latitude in any way.”

Smith, ultimately, was not called as a witness in the recent murder trial. He is believed likely to be a key witness in Alex Murdaugh’s upcoming financial crimes prosecution. A trial date has not yet been set in that case.

During the prior trial, Alex Murdaugh’s defense suggested that they relished the thought of cross-examining Smith. In a pretrial filing, Alex Murdaugh’s defense claimed that Smith failed a lie detector test when asked about the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.

After his client was granted bond, Smith’s defense attorney T. Jarrett Bouchette addressed those oft-cast aspersions.

“Since the beginning of this series of events, the innuendo – the implication – has been that Mr. Smith somehow had something to do with those tragic deaths,” the attorney told a press gaggle. “When Mr. Murdaugh took the stand, he in no way implicated Mr. Smith. The state, after a year – year and some change – and putting forth a six-week trial, never implicated Mr. Smith. All evidence points to the fact that Mr. Smith had nothing to do with those tragic events.”

In addition to the roadside shooting case, Smith faces numerous other county and state grand jury indictments for various drug- and money-related charges.

On Monday, Newman also set a status conference for April 21, in Hampton County, to hash out the defendant’s myriad charges.

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