Murdaughs

Murdaugh Retrial: Alex Murdaugh’s Defense Attorneys File New Brief

Filing hints at how retrial hearing may unfold …

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Attorneys for convicted killer Alex Murdaugh laid out how they believe an upcoming evidentiary hearing into seismic jury tampering allegations should be conducted – listing the witnesses they plan to call, the exhibits they intend to introduce and further laying out their case that Murdaugh deserves a new trial.

Murdaugh’s lawyers – Dick HarpootlianJim GriffinPhillip Barber and Margaret Fox – submitted their latest brief to the S.C. supreme court on Wednesday, January 10, 2024. Prosecutors for the state of South Carolina – who successfully prosecuted Murdaugh on murder charges last spring – are expected to file a similar brief this week.

According to Murdaugh’s lawyers, they currently find themselves at a disadvantage because the state – specifically prosecutors working for attorney general Alan Wilson – have “had the opportunity to conduct discovery for the past several months” on the jury tampering allegations at the heart of this case. As such, the state is “well-prepared to bolster its witnesses and to impeach witnesses favorable to the defense.”

“Mr. Murdaugh has been unable to conduct any discovery whatsoever,” his attorneys alleged in the brief (.pdf), arguing he “received discovery from the state less than a week ago.”

A disgraced, disbarred lawyer and scion of one of the Palmetto State’s most powerful legal dynasties, Murdaugh was convicted on March 2, 2023 of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, at the family’s hunting property near Islandton, S.C.

The following day – March 3, 2023 – he was sentenced to consecutive life terms for those crimes by S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman.

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Murdaugh’s trial was an international circus – the ‘Trial of the Century’ in the Palmetto State – and allegedly profiting from the notoriety was the one official who should have been above reproach, Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill.

Hill’s office oversaw the administration of the trial, but she has since been accused of tampering with the jury – including allegedly engaging in a conspiracy to have a juror believed to be favorable to Murdaugh removed. Her alleged objective? Obtaining a guilty verdict so that she could sell copies of her book, Behind the Doors of Justice.

Hill is expected to be called as a witness for the state, although her potential testimony is up in the air given that she is currently under criminal investigation over the jury tampering allegations as well as a separate criminal inquiry seeking to determine whether she “used her elected position for personal gain.”

Hill is also the focus of a pair of investigations being led by the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC). One investigation seeks to determine whether she “unethically and potentially unlawfully” used her office to enrich herself by obtaining and releasing confidential information related to the Murdaugh trial. The other seeks to determine whether Hill misappropriated public funds from multiple accounts – and then allegedly misrepresented those misappropriations to county officials.

Recent revelations also point to the distinct possibility that Hill and her son – former Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hillobstructed justice in an attempt to short-circuit these investigations.

Jeffrey Hill has already been charged by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) with one count of wiretapping in connection with the ongoing investigation.

Hill has denied all wrongdoing – and specifically submitted an affidavit denying the jury tampering allegations.

(Click to View)

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If Hill were to take the stand, Murdaugh’s attorneys indicated they planned to cross-examine her using “her emails, text messages, telephone records, her book, recordings of her public statements and media interviews (and) her affidavit in this matter,” among other things.

In its brief filed on Thursday, Murdaugh’s attorneys indicated their plans to call four jurors – and Barnwell County clerk of court Rhonda McElveen – to testify. They also indicated that “depending on (Becky) Hill’s testimony,” they reserved the right to call her son to the stand – as well as judge Newman and two Colleton County clerk of court staffers, Laura Hayes and Lori Weiss.

According to the motion, McElveen will “corroborate expected juror testimony” about tampering by testifying that Hill made “substantively identical statements” to her during the trial and “because she received several complaints from court staff about Ms. Hill having inappropriate and excessive contact with jurors.”

McElveen has been described by Hill as “the tick to my tock, the Thelma to my Louise.”

“Rhonda and I will be friends until we die,” Hill wrote of McElveen in her book. “She knows too many of my secrets, so I’ll have to keep her nearby!”

Of particular interest? Murdaugh’s attorneys reserved the right to call Tim Stone – the ex-husband of the “egg juror,” whose controversial dismissal from the jury on the morning of the verdicts paved the way for Murdaugh’s guilty verdict. Murdaugh’s attorneys also reserved the right to call Timothy Stone, who originally authored a Facebook post that was presented to judge Newman as evidence of the egg juror allegedly discussing the case in violation of his orders.

If called to testify, Newman is expected to be questioned about Becky Hill’s alleged “interrogation” of the egg juror outside of his presence – which he indicated on the trial transcript displeased him.

For more on the “egg juror” component to this story, click here (and here).

A public status conference in this case has been scheduled for next Tuesday (January 16, 2024) at the Richland County courthouse in downtown Columbia, S.C. The retrial hearing itself will be held in the same courtroom beginning on January 29, 2024.

Count on FITSNews to provide live coverage of both events …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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3 comments

Greenway Cyclist January 11, 2024 at 3:38 pm

It would be interesting to know when Rhonda McElveen realized the tampering. Wasn’t it her civic and professional duty to report it?

In a press conference about the tampering allegations, Dick Harpootlian said they saw Becky Hill’s interaction with jurors themselves. Attorney Barber then said something to him, and he said no, we saw it. Wasn’t it his responsibility to report it then during the trial and before the verdict and not months later?

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The Colonel Top fan January 11, 2024 at 5:11 pm

Still no evidence of jury interference, just HarmBo blowing smoke. Harmbo’s alleged witness wasn’t on the jury. In fact, none of his three “witnesses” sat on the jury for deliberations. Becky Hill, sadly, needs to be “horsewhipped to the county line” if all of the other allegations are true, but I still see no sign of jury tampering or interference.

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Snarky January 13, 2024 at 3:54 pm

The Murdaughs were the SC Lowcountry deep state. Dick Harpootlian’s wife, Jamie, is Ambassador to Slovenia in the [Deep] State Department.

Thus we have the nexus of a local deep state and the Deep State. I’m not sure why or even if this matters.

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