Alex Murdaugh's attorneys accuse clerk of court of jury tampering in motion seeking new murder trial

ByShawn Nottingham, Dianne Gallagher and Eric Levenson, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Alex Murdaugh's lawyers allege jury tampering in motion for new trial
Ahead of an Alex Murdaugh attorney press conference, his lawyers filed a motion accusing clerk of court Rebecca Hill of jury tampering.

Attorneys representing Alex Murdaugh, the notorious South Carolina fraudster who was convicted earlier this year of murdering his wife and son, filed a motion with the South Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday demanding a new trial and alleging jury tampering by the Colleton County Clerk of Court.

According to the filing, "Colleton County Clerk of Court, Rebecca Hill, instructed jurors not to be 'misled' by evidence presented in Mr. Murdaugh's defense. She told jurors not to be 'fooled by' Mr. Murdaugh's testimony in his own defense.

"Ms. Hill had frequent private conversations with the jury foreperson, a Court-appointed substitution for the foreperson the jury elected for itself at the request of Ms. Hill," the motion states.

"Ms. Hill did these things to secure for herself a book deal and media appearances that would not happen in the event of a mistrial. Ms. Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame. Once these 2 facts are proven, the law does not allow the Court any discretion about how to respond. It must grant a new trial," the motion says.

SEE ALSO | Alex Murdaugh loses prison phone privileges after lawyer records phone call for documentary

The motion cites at least three sworn affidavits from two jurors 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.

According to the filing, juror Holli Miller said that Hill told the jurors, "Y'all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don't let this distract you or mislead you."

CNN has reached out to Hill for comment.

Murdaugh's attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian said in a statement they are asking the South Carolina US Attorney to look into possible criminal charges related to the alleged tampering.

The filing comes about six months after Murdaugh was convicted of the June 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, at their sprawling property in South Carolina's Lowcountry.

READ MORE | Alex Murdaugh case: Convicted murderer indicted on 22 federal counts for alleged financial schemes

The jury deliberated for less than three hours before convicting him of murder and weapons charges. He is currently serving two life sentences for those crimes. Alex Murdaugh's team filed a notice they planned to appeal the conviction shortly after his sentencing.

The case brought national attention to Murdaugh, a former personal injury attorney and member of a dynastic family in the region, where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather served as the local prosecutor consecutively from 1920 to 2006.

What happened at trial

At the murder trial, prosecutors hinged their case on consequential video placing Murdaugh at the crime scene that night despite his repeated assertions otherwise.

The defense case was highlighted by Murdaugh himself, who offered dramatic testimony in which he denied fatally shooting his wife and son. Yet he admitted under oath he had lied to investigators about his whereabouts, stolen millions of dollars from his former law clients and had a rampant opioid addiction that made him paranoid.

In all, state prosecutors have alleged, Murdaugh bilked his law firm, clients and the government out of more than $9 million. He faces about 100 state criminal charges for financial crimes, including embezzlement, computer crime, money laundering, and conspiracy, and he was indicted on 22 federal charges in connection with financial schemes in May.

RELATED | Alex Murdaugh says he lied about his dogs causing housekeeper Gloria Satterfield's 2018 death

The murder conviction was the most significant stage of a stranger-than-fiction story that featured accusations of misappropriated funds, a bizarre alleged suicide-for-hire and insurance scam plot, a stint in rehab for drug addiction, dozens of financial crimes and his disbarment from legal practice.

In a recorded call from prison in June, Murdaugh maintained his innocence, according to the docu-series "The Fall of the House of Murdaugh" on the Fox Nation streaming app.

"I came to this, not expecting anybody to listen to anything. I am not here because of what the jury just convicted me of," he said in the recorded call. "I am in this because of pills, stealing, and lying because I would never, under any circumstances hurt Maggie or Pa Pa (Paul)."

(The-CNN-Wire & 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.)