Court official tampered with Murdaugh jury, defense says
Attorneys are requesting new trial for convicted killer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Defense attorneys for Alex Murdaugh, who is serving two life sentences for double murder, have filed a motion for a new trial after they claim a court official tampered with the jury.
Murdaugh was found guilty of killing his wife Maggie and youngest son Paul after a trial that lasted a record six weeks in Walterboro earlier this year.
Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin filed a motion on Tuesday morning that claims the Colleton County 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 clerk told jurors not to be “fooled” by Murdaugh’s testimony when he took the stand in his own defense, according to the motion.
During the trial, one of the jurors was dismissed after investigators said she engaged in “improper conversations” about the proceedings. Murdaugh’s defense now alleges the clerk “invented” information about social media posts to remove a juror she believed would vote to acquit him.
A spokesperson for the S.C. Attorney General’s Office said, “We are currently reviewing the defense’s latest motion and will respond through the legal process at the appropriate time.”
Rebecca Hill, the clerk named in the motion, co-authored a book Behind the Doors of Justice about the Murdaugh trial. She spoke with FOX Carolina’s Hayley Spitler in July and said her “stomach was churning” when she read the guilty verdict aloud in the courtroom.
Griffin said immediately after Murdaugh’s conviction, they received information encouraging them to look into what happened in the jury room during the trial. He said jurors were initially unwilling to talk to them, but that changed when Hill’s book was published.
Several smokers were on the jury and Harpootlian said they were not allowed to take smoke breaks during deliberations. The jury returned a verdict in about three hours.
Harpootlian and Griffin are asking for an evidentiary hearing to determine if a new trial is warranted. During a press conference at the State House on Tuesday afternoon, Griffin said he is “very optimistic” that Murdaugh will receive a new trial.
Hill has not yet responded to requests for comment on the allegations.
Since Hill is an elected official, the law firm also requested a federal investigation into the issue. They released the following statement:
Murdaugh, who has insisted he is innocent in the murders of his two family members on their Colleton County hunting lodge property in 2021, has already filed a notice of plans to appeal his conviction.
For more information on the Murdaugh cases and related investigations, visit our Tangled Web: Lowcountry section.
Copyright 2023 WHNS. All rights reserved.