South Carolina fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone confirmed today that his office has sent a letter to S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson requesting the statewide grand jury – which Wilson administers – to investigate the criminal case against Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hill.
As our audience is well aware, the criminal investigation into Hill is said to be closely tied to the escalating ethics allegations into his mother, Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court Becky Hill.
In fact, sources familiar with Stone’s request indicated the panel could be tasked with handling all future criminal referrals related to Becky Hill – which could pose a huge ethical dilemma for Wilson’s office.
Stone made the request of Wilson after a joint public corruption task force run by his office – and the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – found sufficient evidence to refer the matter. Stone told us he sent the matter to Wilson because the statewide grand jury can compel sworn, secret testimony – thus making this “the best possibility for a full investigation” of all of the allegations.
Stone specifically referenced the allegations against Becky Hill as potentially falling under the statewide grand jury’s purview. He also said his office stood ready to provide Wilson with whatever support it deemed appropriate.
In a letter to the attorney general, Stone cited an ongoing investigation by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) into “potential public corruption in Colleton County.”
“I am formally asking that you impanel the state grand jury to continue this investigation,” Stone wrote.
Take a look …
(Click to view)
HOW WE GOT HERE …
To recap: Hill’s office oversaw convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s six-week double homicide trial earlier this year – an international spectacle which has been referred to as the ‘Trial of the Century’ in the Palmetto State. Murdaugh, 55, a disbarred attorney and confessed fraudster from Hampton, S.C., was found guilty by a Colleton County jury of the graphic 2021 murders of his wife – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences in the case.
Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before returning their verdicts.
Hill was the one who announced Murdaugh’s guilty verdicts to a waiting world on the evening of March 2, 2023. The following day, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences in the case. In early September, though, the script flipped. Murdaugh’s attorneys – led by Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin – dropped a bombshell motion accusing Hill of tampering with jurors who decided Murdaugh’s fate.
“Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame,” Harpootlian and Griffin alleged, accusing Hill of improperly influencing jurors against Murdaugh in an effort to sell copies of her book, Behind the Doors of Justice.
Hill has denied any wrongdoing – and initial reports have pointed to there being some substance to her denials. An evidentiary hearing into the tampering allegations is likely to take place sometime in February or March of 2024. Newman has rightfully recused himself from presiding over retrial motions – meaning another judge must be tapped to handle that hearing (and potentially a second trial).
SLED agents are also currently investigating the jury tampering allegations.
On November 21, 2023, our outlet reported that Jeffrey Hill had been arrested on one count of wiretapping for having “willfully and feloniously intercept(ed) electronic phone communication.”
That arrest appears to have been tied to an effort to keep Becky Hill abreast of the investigations into her conduct, sources close to the probe have told us.
We also previously reported that Becky Hill’s cell phone was seized by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in connection with the inquiry into her son, but the ethics cases against her are the ones drawing the most attention – especially given their potential to impact Murdaugh’s bid for a new trial.
THE ETHICS COMPLAINTS …
There are currently two investigations into Hill pending before the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) and sources familiar with the inquiries have indicated they believe both of Hill’s pending ethics cases “will wind up at SLED … sooner rather than later.”
Last week, our media outlet received a copy of the first ethics complaint filed against Hill. We also received a detailed report on the contents of the second report – a copy of which we are working to obtain.
In the first complaint (.pdf), it was alleged that Hill engaged in “unethical behavior” and “utilized her authority, the Colleton County courthouse and taxpayer’s money outside the scope of routine court business” to promote her book as well as a book by local reporter Michael DeWitt.
“During the Murdaugh trial, clerk of court Becky Hill has unethically and potentially unlawfully used her political office to obtain and release confidential information,” the complaint noted. “She has used her office and misallocated funds to promote her book and the book written by Michael DeWitt. Hill has neglected the office of clerk of court to take several trips to promote her book and to meet with Netflix to secure her position (in its documentary). Hill’s actions have displayed she is unfit to hold the office of clerk of court.”
Specifically, Hill is alleged to have “used her political position and authority to obtain confidential information and digital images of the defendant and others during the trial.”
The complaint further alleged that Hill oversaw “guided tours of the Colleton County Courthouse during normal business hours” in exchange for “donations.” She allegedly told participants in these guided tours that their donations would be used to “replace the front windows of the courthouse.” These funds are reportedly “unaccounted for as there are no receipts being issued and it is unknown what financial institution and account the donations are being held in.”
Not only that, in one instance Hill is accused of having “ordered a staff member” to strike out the name of Colleton County on at least one $100 check and “add (Hill’s) name” as the recipient of the donation. News of this allegedly doctored check was first referenced by Lori Murray on her popular TikTok page earlier this week.
For more on the investigation into Becky Hill, click this post …
Stay tuned for an update on this developing situation from our founding editor Will Folks, who plans on addressing the potentially glaring conflicts of interest associated with the statewide grand jury and SLED handling the investigation into the allegations against Becky Hill.
UPDATE | THE LATEST
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at email@example.com.
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