The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) – the lead investigatory agency on all of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption probes – is formally investigating bombshell allegations of jury tampering in the Palmetto State’s ‘Trial of the Century,’ the double homicide trial of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.
In fact, the agency has been investigating these allegations for several weeks, according to our sources … much to the chagrin of Murdaugh’s attorneys, who believe the agency cannot act independently in connection with any inquiry related to this trial.
Murdaugh was convicted on March 2, 2023 of murdering his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, on June 7, 2021 on the family’s former hunting property, known locally as Moselle. The following day – March 3, 2023 – he was sentenced to consecutive life terms for those crimes by circuit court judge Clifton Newman.
Murdaugh’s attorneys – state senator Dick Harpootlian and veteran Columbia, S.C. defense attorney Jim Griffin – dropped a bombshell this week when they alleged jury tampering on the part of Colleton County clerk of court, Becky Hill.
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This allegation was supported by multiple affidavits from jurors – as well as one former juror who was controversially removed on the final day of the trial. SLED was integrally involved in the process which led to the juror’s controversial removal, incidentally.
During a press conference outside the S.C. court of appeals on Tuesday afternoon, Harpootlian blasted SLED – saying the agency needed to “stand down” from any jury tampering probe related to the Murdaugh trial. Harpootlian’s language seemed to indicate his belief such an investigation was already underway.
Well, it was … and is.
This news outlet confirmed that prior to Labor Day, SLED agents were in Colleton County investigating these allegations – and were continuing their work there on Wednesday morning (September 6, 2023).
Harpootlian was livid at these reports, saying “this is exactly what we asked them not to do.”
“Is this a legitimate investigation or the beginning of a cover-up?” Harpootlian asked during a Wednesday evening interview with this media outlet. “Are they asking questions or are they intimidating people?”
Harpootlian demanded an “independent” investigation into the Murdaugh trial jury tampering allegations, claiming SLED was too “invested” in the outcome of the proceedings to handle the case objectively.
In addition to filing a motion for a new trial for Murdaugh based on the alleged jury tampering, Harpootlian also sent a letter to the office of U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs asking federal agents to investigate the case.
“I write to request an urgent federal investigation of conduct by a South Carolina elected official,” Harpootlian wrote. “I request that federal law enforcement investigate whether Ms. Hill and any other state actor violated (federal law) by tampering with the Colleton County jury.”
As of this writing, there was no indication the feds were moving forward with such an investigation – although obviously that could change at any moment.
Absent a federal inquiry, Harpootlian indicated an independent local law enforcement agency with the appropriate resources could conceivably step in and investigate the allegations.
“We’ve got a lot of good sheriffs in this state,” he said, singling out the office of Richland County sheriff Leon Lott as a possible option.
SLED was not immediately available to respond to Harpootlian’s comments.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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