COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- Defense attorneys for Alex Murdaugh alleged on Tuesday that the Colleton County Clerk of Court, Rebecca Hill, tampered with the jury that found him guilty of the murder of his wife and son earlier this year and are now asking for a new trial.
In a 65-page motion to the S.C. Court of Appeals and letter to U.S. Attorney Adair Boroughs, Murdaugh’s lawyers, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, accuse Hill of jury tampering and request a federal investigation.
“Defendant Richard Alexander Murdaugh…hereby moves the Court for a new trial
after discovering that the Clerk of Court 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 filing states.
Following the six-week double-murder trial, the jury found Murdaugh guilty of killing his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul after three hours of deliberation.
Murdaugh, a disbarred attorney from a prominent South Carolina family, took the stand to defend himself in his double-murder trial, delivering lengthy and emotional testimony.
However, defense attorneys claim Hill “instructed jurors not be ‘misled’ by evidence presented in Murdaugh’s defense and “not be ‘fooled’ by Murdaugh’s testimony.”
The filing also accuses Hill of having “frequent private conversations with the jury foreperson” and asking jurors for their opinion about Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence.
Furthermore, attorneys allege that Hill “invented a story about a Facebook post to remove a juror she believed might vote not guilty.” On the last day of the trial, Judge Clifton Newman removed a juror due to “improper conduct” and replaced her with an alternate.
Documents further state that Hill “betrayed her oath of office for money and fame,” pointing to media appearances Hill made following the trial and her book, ‘Behind the Doors of Justice,’ which was released Aug. 1.
In a separate letter to U.S. Attorney Boroughs, defense attorneys request a federal investigation based on the new discovery, asserting “Ms. Hill’s actions deprived Mr. Murduagh of his rights under the Constitution” for a fair trial.
During a press conference Tuesday afternoon, attorney Jim Griffin described Alex Murdaugh’s reaction to what the jurors said in their affidavits.
“When I shared with him the affidavits, he’s a lawyer, he was astonished. He was shaking. He was in disbelief. He thanked Mr. Hartpootlian and Mr. Barber and myself for spending our weekends on dirt roads in Colleton County,” he said.
Attorney Dick Harpootlian said they hope to receive approval for a hearing to look into these allegations. He said Hill, the jurors, and possibly even Judge Newman could testify if that hearing happens.
Hartpootlian said he was told the Attorney General has 10 days to respond to this filing.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson provided the following response after Tuesday afternoon’s press conference: “We are currently reviewing the defense’s latest motion and will respond through the legal process at the appropriate time.”