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‘An Investigation Or A Coverup?’ Becky Hill’s Confab With Prosecutors Raises Questions

“An institutional whitewash …”

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Just days before she is scheduled to provide potentially pivotal testimony in a high stakes evidentiary hearing tied to convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s bid for a new trial, embattled Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court Becky Hill met secretly with state prosecutors who are supposed to be pursuing criminal charges against her (and with the investigators who are supposed to be probing criminal allegations against her).

The goal of this secret meeting?

To make sure Hill, the state’s star witness, was adequately prepared for any questioning she may receive at next week’s big Murdaugh evidentiary hearing – which revolves around jury tampering allegations leveled against her. That hearing is scheduled to commence at 9:30 a.m. EST on Monday (January 29, 2024) at the Richland County courthouse in downtown Columbia with former S.C. chief justice Jean Toal presiding.

Hill stands accused of tampering with the jury that found Murdaugh guilty of murdering his wife and younger son last winter. At the conclusion of a six-week, internationally watched trial, a Colleton County jury unanimously found Murdaugh guilty of the graphic murders of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son – 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh – on the family’s hunting property near Islandton, S.C. on the evening of June 7, 2021.

Hill announced these verdicts to a waiting world – and later published a book detailing her experiences overseeing the Palmetto State’s ‘Trial of the Century.’

The last five months have been disastrous for Hill, however. Her credibility has imploded amid a flood of criminal and ethical complaints – as well as the release of emails documenting her duplicity. Luckily for the elected clerk, the narrow parameters established by justice Toal for Murdaugh’s evidentiary hearing should spare her from having to address most of those issues.

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On September 5, 2023 – six months after the verdicts were announced – Murdaugh attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin filed a motion publicly accusing Hill of tampering with the jury. According to Harpootlian and Griffin, this alleged tampering included conspiring to have a juror believed to be sympathetic to Murdaugh removed from the panel on the same day the verdicts were announced.

Hill also allegedly told jurors “not to believe Murdaugh’s testimony and other evidence presented by the defense,” and pushed them to reach “a quick guilty verdict.”

More recently, Hill has been accused of ignoring allegations involving a juror who allegedly violated the judge’s instructions and spoke in favor of convicting Murdaugh.

Hill’s alleged motive for all of this manipulation? Selling copies of her book, Behind the Doors of Justice, portions of which she has since admitted to plagiarizing.

“Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame,” Murdaugh’s attorneys have alleged.

Hill is the focus of an ostensibly ongoing S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigation into the jury tampering allegations – as well as a separate inquiry into allegations that she misused her office for personal gain. She is also the focus of two separate S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) investigations – both of which we have covered in great detail (including Hill’s responses to them). Several of the allegations contained in those ethics cases are expected to be referred for criminal prosecution, as well.

(Click to View)

Becky Hill (Facebook)

As if all of that weren’t enough, there are indications Hill and her son – former Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hill – may have conspired to obstruct justice in connection with the various investigations bearing down on them.

As of this writing, SLED has appropriated unto itself sole authority to investigate Hill criminally – while the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson has accepted the cases involving Hill and her son, but has not publicly declared whether it will be prosecuting them or handing them off to one of the state’s sixteen independently elected solicitors.

All of which leads us to Tuesday’s big meeting in Walterboro …

According to our sources, Hill met for several hours on Tuesday (January 23, 2024) with prosecutors in Wilson’s office and with SLED investigators at a law enforcement annex located within the Bernard Warshaw building in downtown Walterboro.

“They were prepping her,” a source familiar with the meeting confirmed to this outlet.

Ironically, this meeting was held exactly one year to the day that jury selection commenced in Murdaugh’s double homicide trial at the Colleton County courthouse – a historic structure located just a few blocks to the west of the dreary brick building.

Led by prosecutor Creighton Waters, the attorney general’s team arrived at the SLED complex at approximately 9:10 a.m. EST. Hill, her husband and her attorneys arrived roughly forty minutes later – at approximately 9:50 a.m. EST.

Hill and her team departed the facility shortly before 1:30 p.m. EST – approximately three-and-a-half hours after the meeting began. Waters and his team exited the building roughly twenty minutes later, milling about in the parking lot for several minutes before eventually departing at 1:55 p.m. EST.

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RELATED | CLIFTON NEWMAN ASKED TO BE TAKEN OFF ‘TRIAL OF CENTURY’

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Ordinarily, prosecutors meeting with their star witness in advance of an important court hearing would not be cause for concern. If anything, it would be seen as a responsible move in almost any other case.

But this is not any other case. And these are far from ordinary circumstances.

Last September, Harpootlian specifically warned SLED that its decision to probe the Murdaugh jury tampering allegations would be problematic owing to the agency’s lead role in investigating the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga. In fact, he specifically asked the agency to “stand down” from such an inquiry owing to its obvious conflict of interest.

When SLED refused to do so, Harpootlian pointedly questioned the agency’s integrity.

“Is this a legitimate investigation or the beginning of a cover-up?” Harpootlian said at the time.

In addressing the recent referral of the Hill cases to Wilson’s office, Harpootlian echoed these concerns.

“They’ve got a vested interest in maintaining Becky’s credibility,” Harpootlian said, referring to the attorney general and his fellow prosecutors as being more interested in upholding Murdaugh’s guilty verdicts than finding the truth about Hill’s alleged conduct.

On that score, he has a fair point. I have long maintained the ongoing involvement of SLED and Wilson’s office in the jury tampering inquiry – as well as the other criminal investigations into Hill and her family members – was ill-advised and failed to inspire public confidence in the integrity of the process.

(Click to View)

Prosecuting attorney Creighton Waters, left, and defense attorney Jim Harpootlian confer prior to an evidentiary hearting at the Richland County Courthouse on Tuesday Jan.16, 2024. Tracy Glantz The State, Pool

“It is vital for those investigating, prosecuting and adjudicating these matters to be completely independent,” I wrote six weeks ago, promising that my media outlet would not hesitate to speak up when investigators and prosecutors were acting in a manner “inconsistent with the ideals of independence and impartiality.”

This is one of those moments.

The jury tampering allegations against Hill are the sole focus of next week’s evidentiary hearing – and SLED’s investigative reports on those allegations form the primary basis of what Toal must rely upon in her questioning of the Murdaugh jurors.

Meanwhile, state prosecutors – many of whom flew to the national limelight like moths to a flame in the aftermath of the verdicts last year – now find themselves relying on the testimony of the same elected official they are tasked with prosecuting as they seek to uphold their guilty verdicts against Murdaugh.

In what way, shape or form is any of that legitimate?

“The state’s only vested interest is seeking the truth,” a statement from Wilson’s office in response to our inquiries noted. “As with all investigations, SLED and the South Carolina attorney general’s office are committed to a fair and impartial investigation and will continue to follow the facts wherever they lead.”

Really?

I believe Alex Murdaugh is guilty. I believe he is where he belongs. I believe the Colleton County jury reached the correct verdict in his case. And I believe if tried again, Murdaugh would be found guilty again.

But the process currently unfolding seems like an institutional whitewash of credible misconduct allegations by a trio of institutions more interested in covering their own asses than following the truth “wherever it leads,” which is what we pay them to do.

The lack of independence, objectivity and impartiality associated with this jury tampering inquiry is beyond troubling … and is precisely why none of the agencies involved in Murdaugh’s original trial should have ever had anything to do with it in the first place.

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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 seven (soon to be eight) children.

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13 comments

SubzeroIQ January 24, 2024 at 5:17 pm

The big story, FITS, if you dare to publish it, are the $68 million Alan Wilson gave to just two law firms. One is Ken Woodington, a retiree from Wilson’s office. The other is Jean Toal’s brother’s law firm, Willoughby and Heofer.
Even more complicating is that Jim Griffin is representing the public interest foundation opposing that payment.
Would Jean Toal be fair and impartial when at least $34 million to her brother are on the line?
When was Jean Toal EVER fair and impartial when her interests, the interests of her family and/or friends, or simply the interests of someone whose back Jean Toal wanted to scratch today in the hope of that someone scratching Jean Toal’s back tomorrow?
When Jean Toal ran for re-election as SC Chief Justice against Pleicones in 2013-2014, she was pointedly questioned about being “political” and “result-driven,” meaning she will decide ahead of time who should win then manipulate her opinion to justify that result whether that result is the fair one or not.
Yes, she continues to serve after retirement for peanuts in terms of direct payments in return for her court time. But that does not mean she is serving selflessly.
First, she testified in her reconfirmation hearing that she loves it. And there is no reason to doubt that testimony. Some things are stronger to addictions to substances. Can you make a retired maestro stop teaching music, for example, even for free? No; but not entirely for selfless reasons. That is what makes the maestro happy.
The trial court room is what makes Jean Toal happy now.
But something else makes her continue to sit. Without judicial power, she is a has-been and vulnerable to what was done to the trail-blazing Casey Manning and worse.
If you were really that brave, FITS, you would pursue the Jean Toal’s brother’s law firm angle.
I’ll wait to see if you are even brave enough to let this comment through.

Reply
Anonymous January 25, 2024 at 6:41 am

I’m not convinced Murdaugh is guilty. I thought the state’s case was a joke. Everyone jumped on the guilty bandwagon because it was salacious and titillating, which always blinds people. If his case had not been famous and had been tried anywhere else in the country besides a small town, he would not have been found guilty with the evidence presented by the prosecution. I was, quite frankly, surprised when the guilty verdict was announced because I felt the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof, so I am not now surprised by the allegations of jury tampering. I honestly believe, over the years, more and more things are going to come to light to show what a sham the entire investigation and trial actually were.

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JustCallMeAva Top fan January 25, 2024 at 9:07 am

You mean the GPS data from the vehicle that he was driving that puts him at the scene of the murder at the time of the murder? Motive, opportunity + means. Case closed.

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B B BROCKMAN Top fan January 25, 2024 at 1:36 pm

No wonder you want to be “Anonymous”, with your opinion that the “prosecution did not meet it’s burden of proof!” If the burden of proof wasn’t met, what in hell would it take for you to understand that it was. If Alex didn’t do it, who did? Why did he lie about being at the murder scene until “Paw Paw’s” video showed up? What happened to the clothes he was wearing the afternoon hours and why did he lie about what time he got home? Why did he attempt to get his mother’s caretaker to lie about the time he was at his parent’s home the night of the murders? Why did he attempt to get their housekeeper to lie? Why did his vehicle slow down at the exact spot on the trip to his mother’s where Maggie’s phone was found? How did he “walk” 300 some odd steps when he was “taking his nap”? How were both guns used to shoot Maggie and Paul, Murdaugh Guns? Why were the shorts and shirt he was wearing when the Police arrived not bloody, no blood, NONE, why? I could go on for two more pages, but what is the point? I suppose in your mind the “Gun Fairy” shot them, or maybe the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy or even Santa Claus, what do you think? Thanks for you post though, it was great for a good laugh…….

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SubZeroIQ January 25, 2024 at 6:36 pm

Okay, B B Brockman! I am NOT anonymous but completely understand anonymous NOT wanting to be insulted by you.
ALL your questions to anonymous misstate the evidence that was presented.
Yes, Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) lied about being at the kennels, just as EVERY secretary LIES and pretends her boss “is in a meeting” when that boss does not want to take that call.
But lying about an irrelevant matter does not a murderer make.
I have repeated that the time of death is MEDICALLY wrong; that the “Murdaugh guns” (if the ballistics were even accurate) were Paul’s previously-stolen expensive guns which THE REAL KILLERS had gotten hold of; and most recently, I discovered that the white shirt had on it spatter of the non-human blood of that chicken Bubba the dog had caught.
That proves conclusively that it was the shirt AM was wearing at the kennels; and since it had no DNA or spatter from Paul, it proves conclusively that AM was not the shooter.
And only stupid people can by the Prosecution’s fairy-tale supposed motive.
No wonder it took a lot of jury tampering for 12 people to buy that nonesense.
Answer ME if you dare.

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Kidd Top fan January 26, 2024 at 2:33 am

In all fairness the shirt nor the cheek-in were ever tested to see if there is the possibility of the splatter actually being from the bird. Just wanted to clear that up before there are any further misunderstandings of the clothing Alex wore the night of the murders. Oh and Hi Sub. Nice to see you again lady. Hope all is well with you. I said “hello” to you on YouTube. Just wanted to tell you that was me and not some crazy stalker..? Talk soon!

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SubZeroIQ January 27, 2024 at 3:15 pm

Hello to you, kind Kidd. YouTube did not send your hello to me; but glad to meet again.
To clarify, the LCV tests for any VERTEBRATE blood, which a bird is a vertebrate. LCV was positive for the spatter area.
The tests for HUMAN blood AND for Paul’s DNA were negative. So, it is a compelling, or at least reasonable, inference that the spatter came from the bird.
Had that shirt been washed, it would have no spatter. So, it is a compelling, or at least reasonable, inference that it was the shirt Alex Murdaugh wore to the kennels and kept on himself to go to see his mother at Almeida.

JustCallMeAva Top fan January 25, 2024 at 9:05 am

Will, are you actually still writing these pieces, or are you just letting Dick & Jim slide you the daily defense talking points in a blatant attempt to taint any potential jury pool? The only real case that the “Dynamic Duo” have is that they put on an inadequate defense. Now, they can’t claim that in a court because they are still on the case and still collecting that sweet, sweet, Murdaugh money. So where is the money to pay these two coming from since they’ve claimed, repeatedly, that Murdaugh is “broke”. Yet somehow, they are still on the case. Do either of these guys remotely strike you as the type that would do anything pro bono? But from a subscriber standpoint, it’s getting beyond tiresome that the only viewpoint presented here (daily) now is from the defense. But I guess this endless stream of drivel is so much easier to post since SLED and the AG’s office aren’t spoonfeeding you their daily talking points like they are.

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MICHELE HOLLEY Top fan January 25, 2024 at 11:49 am

Just call me Ava – so you really believe that the defense is using this news outlet as talking points for them? An outlet that has consistently taken the opinion that the defendant AM is exactly where he should be for the murders. I don’t think that is exactly the same viewpoint that the defense has.

The point of this article was to address the clear conflict of interest and impropriety of the States law enforcement and prosecutors having for their star witness in the jury tampering the individual they are purportly investigating and willing to charge. Beyond bizarre.

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Lizzie0714 Top fan January 25, 2024 at 12:02 pm

I’m not shocked and I said this from the beginning. Yall can bet that the state will close or dead docket the supposed “investigation(s)” into all Becky Hill related corruption and illegal activities because it’s a clear conflict. How and why there’s already an evidentiary hearing with Justice Toal on the matter of jury tampering when SLED is still supposedly investigating the tampering, wiretapping, and obstruction charges etc etc related to the tampering, is beyond me?!?! Clearly that all goes away if justice Toal rules against Alex at the hearing on the 29th! How can you have Justice Toal say that there’s no evidence of tampering and then SLED continues the investigation and brings criminal charges for tampering later on down the road. Please give me a break. This is all so stupid. Common sense is not so common. The ethics commission and SLED has had since July 2023 or earlier, who really knows at this point, to come to some sort of finding, conclusions, or charges related to all the evidence they have gathered. How long does it take? Absolutely no updates on either investigation have been provided and y’all can bet that they never will after the 29th evidentiary hearing. Shameful. Do better South Carolina.

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Rakish Top fan January 25, 2024 at 3:09 pm

Badgering jurors post-verdict to overturn their decision should not be easy to litigate. It is only possible here because the defense lawyer is a major SC political figure with apparently unlimited funding. The SC legal system is extremely friendly to special interests. Prosecutors meeting with Hill may look bad and one can be sure it won’t go unnoticed by the defense team. It is among the minor problems the Murdaugh affair has raised.

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Linda January 26, 2024 at 3:57 pm

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. Murdaugh killed them. Paul didn’t see it coming but when Maggie was running towards the gunshots she saw who was going to murder her. It pains me that this woman knew she was doomed at the hands of her husband who was supposed to protect her. Alex wasn’t up on technology and this is what made him guilty. I wish I could spit on him in his cell and plaster pics of Paul and Maggie all over his cell.

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SubZeroIQ January 27, 2024 at 3:19 pm

It looks like a frame up for the benefits of Eric Bland’s and Mark Tinsley’s clients; it quacks like a frame up of Alex Murdaugh; it is a frame-up for the enrichment of Eric, Mark and Becky and the election to the governorship of Alan Wilson.

Reply

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