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A judge has denied Alex Murdaugh a new trial in the high-profile double-murder case despite allegations of jury tampering by a court clerk during last year’s trial.
Murdaugh, a former attorney in South Carolina, had been convicted of murdering his wife and son. His defense team sought a retrial, claiming that Colleton County Clerk Rebecca “Becky” Hill had improperly interacted with jurors and hastened their decision.
During Monday’s evidentiary hearings, Judge Jean Toal heard testimonies from all 12 jurors and Hill. The jurors collectively affirmed that Hill’s comments did not sway their guilty verdict. Despite questioning Hill’s truthfulness and acknowledging her possible desire for publicity, Judge Toal concluded that the clerk’s actions did not significantly influence the jury’s decision. She emphasized that the verdict could not be overturned based on “fleeting and foolish comments by a publicity-seeking clerk of court.”
Murdaugh was found guilty last March on multiple counts, including the murder of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, his son, Paul Murdaugh, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. In addition to the jurors, Hill testified, denying any discussion about the case or Murdaugh with the jurors. However, her credibility was questioned in court due to her admission of using “literary license” in her book about the trial, titled “Behind the Doors of Justice.”
Further testimony was heard from Barnwell County Clerk Rhonas McElveen, who revealed Hill’s early intentions to write a book about the case. One juror admitted to feeling influenced by Hill’s demeanor towards Murdaugh but later clarified that it was more the influence of fellow jurors than Hill’s comments.