Alex Murdaugh’s Attorneys Make Bombshell Allegations To Seek New Trial – Lifotravel

Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh, who was convicted in March of killing his wife and son in June 2021, accused the court clerk of trying to influence members of the jury on multiple occasions as part of her plan to write a book about the high-profile trial.

In their 65-page motion seeking a new trial, Murdaugh’s attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian allege that Rebecca “Becky” Hill, the clerk of court in Colleton County, South Carolina, pressured the jury to quickly reach a guilty verdict and made other references to his guilt ahead of their verdict. The bombshell court filing, obtained by HuffPost, includes sworn testimony by two jurors and an affidavit from a paralegal at Harpootlian’s law firm summarizing a meeting with a third juror. The jurors’ statements were made “independently” of one another, Harpootlian said at a news conference Tuesday.

Alex Murdaugh stands next to the witness booth during a break in his murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Feb. 23 in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Joshua Boucher/Pool/The State/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Murdaugh has continued to maintain his innocence in the killings, for which he is serving two life sentences. The verdict came after six weeks of testimony from witnesses including Murdaugh himself, and jurors deliberated for about three hours before delivering their decision. Murdaugh, a disbarred personal injury lawyer and member of a prominent South Carolina family, has also pleaded not guilty to more than 100 state and federal financial crimes, including defrauding his clients of millions of dollars, money laundering, tax evasion and forgery.

In response to the motion, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilsonsaid in a statement shared with HuffPost, “We are currently reviewing the defense’s latest motion and will respond through the legal process at the appropriate time.”

Days before Murdaugh testified, Hill told jurors not to be “fooled by” his defense, according to sworn testimony by two jurors included in the motion.

One of the jurors said they interpreted Hill’s comments to mean Murdaugh would lie when he took the stand in his own defense and said Hill instructed the jury to “watch him closely” before he testified and to “look at his actions” and “look at his movements,” indicating to this juror that Murdaugh was guilty.

Another juror said that before the defense presented its case, Hill told the jury, “Y’all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don’t let this distract or mislead you.”

One juror said when they began deliberations, Hill said, “This shouldn’t take long” and said jurors who smoked would not be allowed to take smoke breaks until they’d reached a verdict, which Griffin characterized as a “coercive effect on people who have a nicotine habit” in a news conference Tuesday.

The original foreperson, who was removed the day deliberations began due to allegations that she had shared her opinion with others about whether Murdaugh was guilty, said Hill had asked her privately whether she and the other jurors thought Murdaugh was guilty. She also told Murdaugh’s attorneys that Hill told her Murdaugh had lied about “everything.” Two other jurors said in the motion that when jurors visited the crime scene at Moselle, the Murdaughs’ hunting property, Hill and another juror “walked off together” and had a “private conversation.”

Murdaugh’s attorneys claim Hill was motivated by her desire to maximize sales of her book, “Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders,” which was published last month. Excerpts from the book are included in the motion. Griffin told reporters Tuesday that the defense team had heard through a “whisper campaign” of potential jury tampering and misconduct among the jurors, but initially none of the jurors would speak about it to them But when Hill published her book, Griffin said, “that zone of silence collapsed, and jurors were upset about that” and several were “more than willing to come forward” and be interviewed by the defense.

Hill did not respond to a request for comment by HuffPost.

Murdaugh’s lawyers also allege that Hill misrepresented “critical and material information” to the trial judge, Clifton Newman, in what they call a “campaign to remove a juror she believed to be favorable to the defense.”

The original foreperson said in her affidavit that Hill had questioned her about a Facebook post purportedly made by the foreperson’s ex-husband, which he and the foreperson both vehemently deny, claiming that she had expressed her opinion about the case. The original foreperson was also accused of sharing her opinion about Murdaugh’s culpability with her two tenants, which she says both later denied. After excusing the juror, according to a transcript included with Tuesday’s motion, Judge Newman said, “Oh boy. I’m not too pleased about the clerk interrogating a juror as opposed to coming to me and bringing it to me.”

The three jurors who spoke to Murdaugh’s lawyers also allegedly indicated a general distrust of the verdict and made allegations of impropriety during the trial. All three said two jurors in particular discussed the case together frequently. Another juror also said that other jurors discussed the case before deliberations began, according to the paralegal’s account of the defense team’s meeting with her, and that after Murdaugh testified, “eight jurors indicated they did not believe his testimony.”

One juror even said they voted to convict Murdaugh, despite having questions about his guilt, because they “felt pressured” by the other jurors, according to Murdaugh’s defense.

“I think they were upset with the way things went and the court … and with the way this played out,” Griffin said Tuesday.

“I am very optimistic we will get a new trial,” Griffin, Murdaugh’s attorney, told reporters Tuesday. “How long that will take I don’t know.”


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