A decorated former federal law enforcement agent has made significant progress in debunking seismic allegations of jury tampering raised by attorneys for convicted killer Alex Murdaugh, multiple sources familiar with the status of his investigation have confirmed to this news outlet.
Those findings could constitute the first significant pushback in this still-unfolding narrative … which so far has been dominated by the claims made by Murdaugh’s lawyers.
The bombshell allegations against Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill – buttressed by a trio of sworn affidavits – were part of a recent request from Murdaugh attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin for their client to receive a new 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.
According to Harpootlian and Griffin, Murdaugh’s conviction was improperly influenced by Hill – who allegedly put her thumb on the scales of justice by “advising (jurors) not to believe Murdaugh’s testimony and other evidence presented by the defense, pressuring them to reach a quick guilty verdict, and even misrepresenting critical and material information to the trial judge in her campaign to remove a juror she believed to be favorable to the defense,” according to their bombshell September 5, 2023 motion (.pdf).
Whether their effort is successful will depend on the extent to which the jury tampering allegations can be proven.
Can they? Hmmmm …
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In an effort to defend herself against these charges, Hill has retained attorneys Justin Bamberg and Will Lewis. She has said nothing publicly, however – other than issuing a blanket denial issued to reporter Michael DeWitt of The Hampton County Guardian. Bamberg – a fifth-term state lawmaker – is widely known across the state for his representation of multiple victims of Murdaugh’s admitted financial crimes. Lewis is a former federal prosecutor who clerked for former S.C. chief justice Costa Pleicones.
Neither attorney has commented on the case.
As part of their discovery efforts on Hill’s behalf, though, Bamberg and Lewis reportedly retained veteran federal law enforcement investigator Rob Waizenhofer to look into the jury tampering allegations.
What has Waizenhofer uncovered? It is not immediately clear, but sources familiar with his inquiries are buzzing.
“He may have saved the state’s case,” a source close to the investigation told me over the weekend, referring to Waizenhofer’s reported discoveries.
That certainly seems … significant.
No one on Hill’s team is talking, but sources familiar with the case say Waizenhofer has identified – and exposed – multiple flaws with the affidavits submitted by Murdaugh’s lawyers.
Waizenhofer spent nearly 34 years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he participated in numerous high-profile investigations. He recently retired from the agency, but still consults with the government from time-to-time – and also works as an investigator in multiple high-profile private sector cases.
Waizenhoefer is reportedly among the most sought-after investigators in the nation – and is generally regarded as the nation’s top polygraph expert.
It is not immediately clear whether Waizenhofer has polygraphed anyone in connection with this case, however.
While attorneys and investigators continue their work, agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are leading the investigation into the jury tampering allegations – much to the chagrin of Murdaugh’s lawyers.
Harpootlian has repeatedly asked the office of U.S. attorney Adair Ford Boroughs to investigate the allegations against Hill – arguing an “independent” investigation was necessary because SLED, which investigated all of the Murdaugh crimes, was too “invested” in the outcome of the proceedings.
During a press conference outside the S.C. court of appeals last month, Harpootlian blasted SLED – saying the agency needed to “stand down” from any jury tampering probe related to the Murdaugh trial. When this news outlet first confirmed SLED was, in fact, investigating, Harpootlian was livid – saying “this is exactly what we asked them not to do.”
“Is this a legitimate investigation or the beginning of a cover-up?” Harpootlian said. “Are they asking questions or are they intimidating people?”
Count on this news outlet to keep our audience in the loop on the latest developments in this newest chapter of the Murdaugh saga …
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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