The South Carolina court clerk at the center of Alex Murdaugh’s motion for a new trial on the basis of jury tampering by the court has, for the first time and under oath, denied the disgraced former attorney’s allegations against her.
“I did not tell the jury ‘not to be fooled’ by evidence presented by Mr. Murdaugh’s attorneys,” reads the signed affidavit by Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca “Becky” Hill.
Murdaugh, a now notorious South Carolina fraudster and disbarred attorney, is currently serving two consecutive life sentences after being convicted in March of murdering his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, at the family’s hunting estate in June 2021.
Murdaugh is appealing his murder conviction, however, his attorneys in September requested that the appeal be suspended as they sought a new trial for him based on jury tampering allegations.
Then, last month, the South Carolina Court of Appeals granted Murdaugh’s motion to suspend his conviction appeal and sent the case back to the circuit court to consider allegations of jury tampering.
Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a motion on Friday asking that a trial judge hold an evidentiary hearing on their allegations of jury tampering.
The motion contains allegations that Hill “tampered with the jury by advising them 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 to be favorable to the defense.”
The motion cites at least three sworn affidavits, including one from a juror and one from a dismissed juror, as well as excerpts from Hill’s book, “Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders,” which was published last month.
In the signed affidavit, Hill ticks off 26 denials of specific allegations included in Murdaugh’s new trial motion.
“I did not instruct the jury to ‘look at his movements,’” Hill continued. “I did not say to the jury, ‘This shouldn’t take us long.’”
“I did not tell jurors: ‘Y’all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don’t let this distract or mislead you.’”
Hill’s three-page affidavit is part of a blistering response filed by the South Carolina attorney general on Tuesday, in which Attorney General Alan Wilson, lead state prosecutor Creighton Waters and other state prosecutors, ask the courts to deny Murdaugh’s motion for a new trial.
“Never does the law permit highly motivated convicts to put their own jury on trial,” reads the filing, which also includes photocopies of voluntary statements from several jurors.
AG cited ‘factual disputes’ with tampering claims
In September, the attorney general asked an appeals court to order Murdaugh’s defense team to correct and refile their motion requesting a new trial. The state’s filing noted an ongoing investigation had “revealed significant factual disputes” that undermine the credibility of Murdaugh’s claims.
In the filing, Wilson’s office listed several “procedural defects” in Murdaugh’s original court motion submitted on September 5, arguing it did not meet the requirements necessary to suspend his appeal and allow his motion for a new trial to proceed in the circuit court.
The attorney general asked the state court to give Murdaugh’s team 10 days to file a corrected motion.
Wilson’s request came days after he asked the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to investigate the claims in Murdaugh’s motion for a new murder trial, according to a joint statement from Wilson and the investigative agency.
“The state’s only vested interest is seeking the truth,” the September 7 joint statement said. “As with all investigations, SLED and the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office are committed to a fair and impartial investigation and will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead.”
According to the state’s response filing on Tuesday, “most of the jurors and a final alternate juror” have been interviewed SLED during the investigation.
“None of the jurors who were willingly interviewed with SLED reported feeling any pressure or influence to reach their verdict,” the state’s filing said.
One juror has declined to be interviewed, and two jurors are represented by an attorney who has yet to consent to an unconditional interview with SLED, according to the filing.
“In support of his claim, Murdaugh offers affidavits from one juror who participated in deliberations, one who was removed for dishonestly concealing her improper communications about the case, and two hearsay affidavits from his counsel’s paralegal,” the state wrote in its response filing. “Murdaugh additionally advances a sweeping conspiratorial theory about wholly irrelevant Facebook posts with scant evidence to support it.”
The filing notes that if the motion for a new trial is not denied, then a hearing should be held where all jurors would need to testify under oath about the jury tampering allegations.
When asked by CNN on Tuesday, Murdaugh’s legal team did not have any comment on the state’s filing.
Justin Bamberg, an attorney for Hill, told CNN in a statement, “We have fully respected the investigatory process, which was tough given the horrible things said about Mrs. Hill on Alex Murdaugh’s behalf.
“However, you can put to bed any allegation that Mrs. Hill tampered,” he continued. “You can also put to bed any allegation that she’s going to be charged criminally.”
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