A South Carolina court clerk at the center of Alex Murdaugh’s battle for a new trial has finally spoken out and denied all allegations that she tampered with the jury that convicted him of murdering his wife and son.
“I did not tell the jury ‘not to be fooled’ by evidence presented by Mr. Murdaugh’s attorneys,” Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill wrote in an affidavit filed on Tuesday. “I did not instruct the jury to ‘watch him closely.’ I did not instruct the jury to ‘look at his actions.’ I did not instruct the jury to ‘look at his movements.’”
The denials mark the first time Hill has responded to Murdaugh’s defense team’s allegations, which were first laid out in a September motion for a new trial. The disgraced ex-lawyer’s team has accused Hill of advising jurors not to believe Murdaugh’s testimony and defense evidence, encouraging jurors to render a quick verdict, engaging in private conversations with the jury foreperson, and even denying jurors the opportunity to smoke during deliberations.
After the six-week February trial, it took jurors only three hours to convict Murdaugh of murder. He was then sentenced to two life sentences and faces over 100 separate charges for other crimes.
In Tuesday’s response to the motion for a new trial, prosecutors slammed Murdaugh for claiming he is entitled to a new trial based on the allegations against Hill. Prosecutors wrote that Murdaugh’s only evidence for supposed misconduct stems from an affidavit from one juror, a different former juror who was removed prior to deliberations for discussing the case, and two affidavits from a defense paralegal.
The 25-page motion urging a judge to deny the defense motion included written statements from jurors and court staff denying wrongdoing and a three-page affidavit from Hill, in which she denies 26 different allegations against her. (In September, the state’s Attorney General’s Office announced that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was investigating the claims against Hill.)
“During the trial, I did not tell members of the jury that the media would want to interview them at the end of the trial,” Hill states. “During the trial, I did not hand out business cards to media personnel. I did not tell jurors, ‘Y’all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don’t let this distract or mislead you.”
The filing comes days after Murdaugh’s legal team filed a motion asking the South Carolina Supreme Court to ban Judge Clifton Newman from all future hearings related to the murder case, alleging that he cannot be impartial. The defense claims that Newman has publicly expressed his opinion about the case since the March sentencing, violating the Code of Judicial Conduct that requires impartiality.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office denied comment on Tuesday’s filing and Murdaugh’s legal team did not immediately respond. Hill’s lawyer, Justin T. Bamberg, told The Daily Beast that his team has “fully respected the investigatory process, which was tough given the horrible things said about Mrs. Hill on Alex Murdaugh’s behalf.”
“However, you can put to bed any allegation that Mrs. Hill tampered,” he added. “You can also put to bed any allegation that she’s going to be charged criminally.”