Lawyers for Alex Murdaugh requested a new trial Tuesday in an explosive motion filed in Columbia, South Carolina, that alleges the court clerk tampered with jurors so she could secure a book deal.
Colleton County Court Clerk Rebecca Hill penned the memoir “Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders,” which hit bookstores Aug. 1.
Hill pressured jurors to “reach a quick verdict” and had “frequent private conversations with the jury foreperson” to sway the panel toward a guilty verdict, attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin wrote in the filing.
“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,” the filing says. “Ms. Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame.”
The accusations were made in a motion citing “newly discovered evidence,” including interviews with two jurors.
Murdaugh, 55, was sentenced in March to two life terms to run consecutively for gunning down his 52-year-old wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and his son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, in June 2021.
“I’m the one that read the verdict of Alex Murdaugh. And I was a little, my breath was knocked out for a moment. But then I have to tell myself to treat this just like any other trial, any other verdict that I have to read.”Rebecca Hill tells FOX NATION
The bombshell new filing also accuses Hill, an elected official, of warning jurors “not to be fooled” by Murdaugh before he testified and “misrepresenting critical and material information to the trial judge” to get a juror she believed was sympathetic to the defense dismissed.
Hill allegedly instructed the panel to “watch him closely” and “look at his actions,” implying that Murdaugh was lying.
The filing says Hill got one juror booted from the panel Feb. 28 on the eve of deliberations by falsely telling Judge Clifton Newman that the woman’s ex-husband had accused her in a deleted Facebook post of talking way too much to friends and family about the case. Hill even wrote about the incident in her book.
But the post, according to the defense lawyers, never existed, and they included an affidavit from the woman’s ex-husband corroborating this.
On March 2, after a grueling six-week trial, it took the jury less than three hours to convict Murdaugh on all counts. The panel didn’t ask a single question.
The filing alleges that Hill coerced the rapid verdict by telling the jurors, “This shouldn’t take us long.”
She also allegedly told the six smokers on the panel that they could not take a smoke break until they’d wrapped up deliberations. After the sentencing, Hill accompanied three jurors on a trip to New York City to appear on the “Today” show. It was the first time Hill had ever flown on a plane.
In addition to the motion for a new trial, the defense team sent a letter to the U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina, asking for a federal probe into Hill’s alleged misconduct.
They wrote that Murdaugh may “very well be a victim of the corruption he symbolizes.”
Hill could not immediately be reached for comment.
At a press conference outside the state Court of Appeals, Murdaugh’s attorneys provided further details on their allegations against Hill.
Griffin said the two jurors, who had refused to talk previously, came forward after Hill’s memoir was published, angered by how the clerk was “going on a book tour and making money” off the trial.
When they relayed the new information to Murdaugh, he was reportedly stunned.
“He’s a lawyer. He was astonished. He was shaking. He was in disbelief,” Griffin said.
The defense lawyers’ motion comes less than a week after Fox Nation aired the docuseries, “The Fall of the House of Murdaugh,” featuring an exclusive interview with the disgraced patriarch’s son, Buster Murdaugh.
“I do not believe it was fair,” Buster told FOX News anchor Martha MacCallum of his father’s murder trial. “I was there for six weeks studying it, and I think it was a tilted table from the beginning. And I think, unfortunately, a lot of the jurors felt that way prior to when they had to deliberate.”
The state argued at trial that Murdaugh fatally shot his wife and son on the family’s hunting estate, known as Moselle, June 7, 2021, in a desperate act of self-preservation.
The once powerful scion of a Lowcountry legal dynasty was about to be exposed for allegedly swindling his law firm and clients out of more than $9 million.
The day of the killings, the chief financial officer of his former law firm confronted him about missing fees, and Murdaugh had a hearing scheduled later that week in a wrongful death lawsuit from a deadly 2019 boat wreck.
Paul had crashed his father’s boat into a bridge, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach and injuring four other friends, and Alex Murdaugh was facing a multimillion-dollar claim that could expose his financial malfeasance.
Murdaugh admitted to jurors on the witness stand that he stole the money, in part, to fuel a raging opioid addiction but insisted he’d never kill his wife and son.
Toward the end of the press conference Tuesday, a reporter asked Harpootlian if Hill should still have a job.
“No comment,” he replied.
Source : Fox News