Alex Murdaugh will not receive a new double-murder trial, a judge ruled Monday after hearing allegations a clerk of court tampered with the jury during last year’s proceedings, The Associated Press reported.
Lawyers for Murdaugh, a former South Carolina attorney who was convicted of murdering his wife and son, requested a new trial over allegations Colleton County Clerk Rebecca “Becky” Hill spoke with jurors about the case and Murdaugh and pushed jurors to come to a quick verdict.
Judge Jean Toal said the 12 jurors who testified during evidentiary hearings on Monday all said any comments from Hill did not directly impact their decision to find Murdaugh guilty of murder, the AP reported.
Toal on Monday noted she was unsure if Hill told the truth about never having spoke to the jurors about the case and thought the country clerk was “attracted by the siren call of a celebrity,” the news wire added.
Upon reviewing the full transcript of the six-week trial, Toal reportedly said she could not reverse the verdict based “on the strength of some fleeting and foolish comments by a publicity-seeking clerk of court,” whom she noted did not actively influence the jurors’ decision.
The disgraced attorney and admitted thief was convicted last March on all counts, including the murder of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, the murder of his 22-year-old son Paul Murdaugh, and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
The judge on Monday heard testimony from all 12 of the deliberating jurors along with Hill, who denied she spoke of the case or Murdaugh with the jurors.
Hill was questioned in court over her truthfulness after she claimed she used “literary license” for some of the parts she wrote about in her book about the trial, the news wire reported.
Following last year’s trial — which ended in March — Hill, with co-author Neil Gordon, released a book about the proceedings titled “Behind the Doors of Justice.”
“I did have a certain way I felt,” Hill reportedly said on Monday.
Murdaugh’s defense team also called Barnwell County Clerk Rhonas McElveen, who assisted Hill during the trial. McElveen revealed Hill suggested they write a book on the case prior to the trial beginning, “because she wanted a lake house and I wanted to retire,” and that a guilty verdict would help sell books.
One juror on Monday claimed Hill “made it seem like he was already guilty,” and answered “yes” when asked if this influenced her to vote to find Murdaugh guilty, the AP said. The juror later clarified it was more her fellow jurors than the clerk’s statements that influenced her to vote guilty.
The remaining jurors said their verdicts were not influenced by external factors outside the trial, the AP reported.
“You have 11 of them strong as a rock who said this verdict was not influenced,” prosecutor Creighton Waters said, per the AP. “The evidence is overwhelming from the people who mattered.”
Murdaugh was sentenced in early March to life in prison without parole.
The Associated Press contributed.
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