West Virginia lawyer accused of trying to murder wrestler on Florida golf course

Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced Newport Beach, California, defence attorney who had 5-year-old felony conviction reversed in a secret deal, appeared in court Wednesday afternoon as a judge set his bail at $7m.

The plea deal was related to his 2015 conviction of felony child abuse in Illinois, where he worked at the time. On Wednesday, he appeared before Santa Ana district court judge David Thompson as he was in the middle of seeking a bond hearing.

Murdaugh, 38, appeared in court wearing a grey suit and a white T-shirt, but did not address the media while leaving court.

‘Violent rape’ in Santa Barbara County: man charged with kidnap and rape of 17-year-old Read more

Pasquale Rotella was shot to death on 19 July, 2017, by police after he allegedly kidnapped and raped a 17-year-old high school student. The victim was released alive near the site of the Blue Monster at Doral Golf Club in Miami on Saturday, after he was allegedly found sitting in a white Chevrolet SUV with three gunshot wounds.

Murdaugh was initially charged with kidnap and rape after prosecutors said the suspect intentionally lured Rotella out into the wild, threatened him with a gun, then assaulted and raped him. Later he was found not guilty of the lesser charges after determining that his client had changed his story, that one of the bullets in the victim’s arm was from police training, and that the fired shell had allegedly come from his own gun.

Murdaugh had challenged his conviction on the grounds that his lawyer didn’t present him with the evidence of misbehaviour from his client, and sought the general release to house arrest, or while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. The judge disagreed, finding that Murdaugh had established a likelihood to flee, and that the opportunity to do so “is immeasurable” given the wealthy lifestyle he has lived in California.

Sentencing is expected to be held within two weeks. He could face between three years to 11 years in prison, depending on his conduct before his trial.

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