A leaked video related to the ongoing “egg juror” saga appears to have lent some credence to a pivotal decision made by South Carolina circuit court judge Clifton Newman at the very end of the Palmetto State’s six-week ‘Trial of the Century’ in Walterboro, S.C. earlier this year.
The “egg juror” – a.k.a. juror number 785 – was a member of the 12-member panel charged with determining Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence. As we reported at the time, it was abundantly clear she had made up her mind by the end of the trial: Murdaugh was innocent.
“She said he was ‘not guilty’ and there was nothing anyone could do to change her mind,” a source familiar with the jury’s sentiments told us at the time. “She was dug in.”
“She would have hung the jury,” another source confirmed.
“Would” being the operative word …
To recap: On the morning of March 2, 2023 – the morning after lead prosecutor Creighton Waters delivered a compelling closing argument on behalf of the state – Newman removed the egg juror for allegedly having improper conversations with three individuals about the case. The juror then allegedly lied to Newman about these communications.
Newman removed her “in order to protect the integrity of the process.”
“You have been by all accounts a great juror,” Newman said, telling her she had been “attentive to the case.”
Newman added he was “not suggesting you intentionally did anything wrong” – and thanked the juror for her service.
As she was preparing to leave the packed courtroom, Newman asked the juror whether she had anything remaining in the jury room.
“A dozen eggs,” she replied.
“A dozen eggs?” Newman responded, smiling.
“You want to leave the eggs or take the eggs?” the judge asked the juror, who indicated her desire to take them.
“Mister bailiff: Can you retrieve from the jury room her dozen eggs?” Newman said.
The courtroom erupted in laughter and in that moment, juror number 785 became known as the “egg juror.”
(Click to view)
The circumstances related to her dismissal were central to a bombshell motion filed earlier this month by Murdaugh’s attorneys – state senator Dick Harpootlian and veteran trial lawyer Jim Griffin. In that motion, the attorneys accused Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill of extensive tampering with the jury – and of participating in an alleged conspiracy to have the egg juror removed via a fabricated Facebook post.
More significantly, the filing contained affidavits indicating other jurors echoed her allegations against Hill.
The post in question – which has yet to be produced (and likely does not exist) – was not the only purported evidence implicating the egg juror, however.
On February 27, 2023 – three days before the verdicts – a co-worker of one of the egg juror’s tenants emailed the court. In that message, she claimed the tenant told her that her landlord was a juror in the Murdaugh case – and that she had expressed an opinion about the trial while delivering a refrigerator to the property more than a week earlier.
In an affidavit (.pdf) filed with the defense motion, the juror stated she did in fact deliver a refrigerator to a rental property on February 18, 2023. The tenants of this property were Clifford Dandridge and Deborah Webb. Webb is an employee of Domino’s Pizza, and the juror stated that whomever sent this email was a co-worker of Webb’s from Domino’s.
The juror further stated she was unaware whether Webb made this statement to a co-worker – or if the co-worker actually heard this statement directly. After her dismissal, she asked Dandridge and Webb about it.
In her sworn statement, the juror said Dandridge and Webb told her the affidavits they signed were prepared by the prosecution and were not consistent with what they told law enforcement. According to them, agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) arrived at their home at 10:00 p.m. EST after they were asleep, removed them from the residence and put them in separate vehicles – at which point they began interrogating them.
According to the juror, Dandridge told SLED she had not said anything regarding Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence. SLED agents allegedly returned thirty minutes later with subpoenas requiring Dandridge and Webb to appear in court the following day.
Pursuant to the subpoenas, two appeared in court at 9:00 a.m. EST the next day (March 1, 2023). According to the juror’s affidavit, they were held there for nine hours – at which point SLED agents appeared with typed affidavits purporting to be their statements from the prior night. They were told to sign the statements and did so – without reading them, allegedly.
These claims, if true, are deeply concerning.
Based on the video we obtained, allegations that the egg juror improperly discussed her views on the case appear to have at least some foundation in reality. Specifically, the co-worker who contacted the court affirmed that she did contact Newman about the juror's alleged commentary.
"She said she thought Alex was not guilty," the woman said in the video, which she filmed while sitting on the porch of a church as she was being questioned by Murdaugh's lawyers. "I felt as a juror - you (weren't) supposed to be telling nobody you were a juror."
Harpootlian then asked the woman what prompted her to email the court about what her co-worker allegedly said.
"I talked to a friend of mine and I told her what was going on," the woman said. "She told me the best thing to do was maybe look and see if (she) could get judge Newman's email and maybe email him."
Responding to questions from Harpootlian, the woman said she never spoke to Becky Hill - or anyone from SLED - about the email she sent. She further denied that anyone instructed her to send the email.
"Nobody told me to send it," she said.
Here is the video ...
(Click to view)
In an interesting twist, the woman indicated she was never contacted by law enforcement, by court officials - or by anyone else - about the email she sent to the court.
"No, nobody did," she said in response to questioning by Murdaugh attorney Phillip Barber. "I never once indicated where I worked. I never once indicated who (the juror) was."
The conversation ended with the woman agreeing to submit an affidavit on behalf of the defense stipulating that no one contacted her in response to her email. It is not immediately clear whether such an affidavit was ever submitted.
What is clear? There was at least some basis in fact related to at least one of the allegations against the "egg juror." If true, that could point to Newman being justified in ordering her dismissal - while undercutting the defense's suggestion that efforts to kick her off the jury were based entirely on fabricated evidence.
"A key component of the juror dismissal decision appears to be grounded in a credible allegation," a source familiar with the video told this news outlet.
Harpootlian, unsurprisingly, viewed it differently.
“All this is evidence of is that we were very diligent in who we spoke with," Harpootlian told me Wednesday afternoon.
Harpootlian also said the lack of follow-up on the woman's claim underscored his insistence for a thorough inquiry into the jury tampering claims.
“We need to delve into every aspect of these allegations," he said.
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 (soon to be eight) children.
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