Court Official Tampered With Jury, Murdaugh's Attorneys Say

They want a new trial over the alleged actions of Rebecca Hill
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2023 12:31 PM CDT
Court Official Tampered With Jury, Murdaugh's Attorneys Say
Michael Gunn, principle at Forge Consulting, gives the witness oath by Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill, right, during Alex Murdaugh's double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse, Feb. 8, 2023, in Walterboro, SC.   (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool, File)

Alex Murdaugh wants a new murder trial, and detailed the reason why in a 65-page filing submitted Tuesday. His lawyers argued that jury tampering occurred, thereby denying him a fair trial, and included sworn affidavits from three jury members in their filing. Sources tell NBC News at least two jurors have hired lawyers themselves. Murdaugh's attorneys allege Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill advised jurors "not to believe Murdaugh's testimony and other evidence presented by the defense, pressuring them to reach a quick guilty verdict, and even misrepresenting critical and material information to the trial judge in her campaign to remove a juror she believed favorable to the defense." Among the specific allegations:

  • Deliberations began the afternoon of March 2, and Hill allegedly told jurors that if a verdict wasn't reached by 11pm they would be brought to a hotel; they hadn't packed for such an overnight and reportedly became upset. Hill allegedly told six jurors who smoked that smoke breaks were off-limits until they reached a verdict. A verdict was reached in under three hours.
  • Hill requested the court appoint a jury foreperson different from the one the jury chose and then allegedly had private conversations with that person in a single-person bathroom.
  • Hill told the judge that a juror's ex posted on Facebook that she was talking about the case, leading to her removal; Hill didn't supply that post but an apology she said was taken from the ex-husband's account. Lawyers say that apology post never appeared on his account.

The lawyers allege she did so in order to secure a book deal that would have been pulled had a mistrial occurred. The State reports Hill's book, Behind the Doors of Justice: the Murdaugh Murders, came out in July. "Ms. Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame," wrote attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian. The AP reports they're seeking an evidentiary hearing in which jurors would be called back and questioned under oath in order to get more information on the record, with the ultimate goal being a new trial for the 55-year-old. Murdaugh is currently serving life without parole in the shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son Paul. (More Alex Murdaugh stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.