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Lawyer for man accused of shooting Alex Murdaugh says his client is the “fall guy”

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:57 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Curtis Edward Smith is accused of dealing opioids to a prominent South Carolina attorney who spent millions on drugs, agreeing to shoot someone in the head to assist a suicide attempt, and doing so without hesitation.

To Smith’s lawyer, Jarrett Bouchette, these accusations don’t make sense.

“He is a disabled former logger, he was in the logging business for most of his career and a mechanic. His financial means do not support the status of a long-time, high-level, multi-million dollar drug dealer,” Bouchette said.

Smith, 61, is charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud in connection with the shooting of Alex Murdaugh over Labor Day weekend.

Officials with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said Murdaugh gave them a statement admitting to having Smith murder him for the purpose of his living son, Buster Murdaugh, being able to collect a life insurance policy worth $10 million.

Smith has also told SLED he was there at the time of the shooting and got rid of the weapon.

When asked where Smith disposed of the weapon, Bouchette said he has no comment on that at this time.

Bouchette says Smith got a call from Alex Murdaugh on September 4 with a request to bring his work truck. Smith would perform odd mechanic jobs when he could and even had a shop in the back of his house, according to Bouchette.

“It was under the assumption that he was coming over to fix something, or work on a piece of equipment, or something along those lines,” Bouchette said. “It appears that my client’s position is that he arrived on the scene and Mr. Murdaugh was essentially in a suicidal state, highly disheveled, agitated, and given what’s already been put out in the public that makes sense.”

Bouchette says Smith and Murdaugh have known each other for years.

The two played softball together and then talked more when Murdaugh represented him in a workers compensation case and then kept in “frequent contact and frequent communication.”

Bouchette says they are still in the early phase of the case and he was retained by Smith about a week ago.

“We are treating this like any other case where someone is accused of a crime,” Bouchette said.

A spokesperson for Alex Murdaugh did not respond to a request for comment at this time. Officials with SLED say it would be inappropriate to comment during an active investigation.

Bouchette says it’s a struggle for his client to be getting this much attention from the media.

When Smith gave an interview to tell his side of the story, Bouchette said he was not characterized well in a recent NY Post article.

“Unfortunately they chose to try and rely on stereotypes and try to make him a caricature and I think it really was a disservice to him, this was a guy with kids and grandkids that has spent his life in this community. And a lot of very serious allegations are being made against him.” Bouchette said. “He did not see this coming, he did not anticipate it.”

Smith is currently out on bail.

*The Island Packet was the first to interview Curtis Smith’s lawyers and report on their views on the case.

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