Murdaughs

Becky Hill’s Text Messages Reveal Basis Of Latest Murdaugh Trial Allegation

Unsealed exchange could be the first of many to implicate embattled official …

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A change in a protective order filed in convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s failed bid for a new trial has uncovered the basis of some of the latest allegations against embattled Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court Becky Hill.

The newly released information consisted of six pages of text messages exchanged between Hill and Doug Browne – a contractor who worked for the defense team during Murdaugh’s widely watched trial last year.

The relevant allegation was first referenced in a court filing submitted one week before Murdaugh’s retrial hearing last month by his defense attorneys – Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin. In a filing dated on January 16, 2024, Murdaugh’s legal team alleged that Hill had “covertly used the defense’s trial graphics contractor as a spy during and after trial.”

The exhibit which supported this claim was sealed until February 21, 2024 – when former S.C. chief justice Jean Toal made it public at Murdaugh’s request. Prosecutors in the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson did not comment on the request – nor did they file any motion objecting to the disclosure of the document.

Hill has been the focus of multiple ethics and criminal inquiries over the last few months – several of which are ongoing, as our media outlet reported last week. As our audience is well aware, her phone records have been sought by investigators with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) as part of their investigation into allegations of jury tampering, misconduct in office, obstruction of justice and perjury.

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Hill has not been charged in connection with any of these allegations. However, her son – former Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hill – is currently facing criminal wiretapping charges which reportedly tie back to the scandal surrounding his mother.

The text messages between Hill and Browne (.pdf) began on January 18, 2023 as Colleton County prepared to host the Palmetto State’s “Trial of the Century.” The final message was dated June 3, 2023 – around the time Hill was putting the finishing touches on her book, Behind the Doors of Justice.

The messages began with general chit-chat about tech needs and lunch. Then, at 5:57 a.m. EST on February 10, 2023 in the midst of the trial, Hill sent this message, “Good morning! I heard from a sad Adele that you may be leaving us … surely Harpootlian needs YOU for his defense presentation!!!”

Browne replied by telling Hill that the defense was “running out of money” and was trying to renegotiate his contract.

“Running out of money hmmm … well, maybe if they weren’t paying so damn much to stay at the garden of Eden!!” Hill replied, a reference to the legal team’s pricey accommodations.

At 3:01 p.m. EST that same day, Hill sent Browne a message that said, “Doug! You’re staying! Don’t say anything yet to defense. I still have to email Hollie (sic).”

In the intervening hours, Hill had arranged for Browne to split his time between the defense, the county, and the attorney general’s office for the duration of the trial with the three entities sharing the cost of his services. However, it appears from Hill’s text message that the defense team may have been the last to know.  

As word got out that Murdaugh would be taking the stand to testify in his own defense on February 23, 2023, Hill sent the following message to Browne, “Can you believe he’s going to take the stand?” This message was sent on the same day the defense alleged Hill told jurors “don’t be fooled” by Murdaugh’s testimony.

“Right!?!?!” Browne replied, “Of course he’s used to being the center of attention and talking his way out of things.”

At 3:08 p.m. EST on February 28, 2023, Hill send Browne a message that took their interactions in a decidedly different direction. As forensic expert Dr. Kenneth Kinsey – arguably the star witness for the prosecution – testified about the crime scene and evidence, Hill shared a bit of gossipy speculation about him with Browne.

(Click to View)

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian and Kenneth Kinsey estimate the distance of a shotgun during Paul Murdaugh’s murder during Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, February 16, 2023. Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool

“If you look up Kenny Kinsey on fb, you will notice his wife and children … now I know gay men can be married and have children, but just saying … a really nice, smart, down to earth guy,” Hill wrote.     

A review of the timeline of events leading up to Murdaugh’s jury tampering claim provides some perspective as to the timing of this rumor. The message about Kinsey was sent on a particularly eventful day. This is the day Hill questioned the so-called “egg juror” about a Facebook post allegedly made by her ex-husband. That evening S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman held an in camera conference on the matter of the egg juror – who would later be dismissed during closing arguments. That night Hill attended a party at the Wildlife Center with the media where her daughter provided musical entertainment.   

Hill and Browne exchanged Facebook links in March 2023, but those posts have since been made private. At least one of them was about the Murdaugh trial – as evidenced in follow up text messages that commented on the content and how it might have been helpful to the prosecution.

After the trial ended with a guilty verdict and two life sentences for Murdaugh, Browne sent a message that said he was planning a visit to the courthouse the following week.

“Please come!” Hill replied. “We are giving tours like crazy.”  

In the same conversation, Hill said, “(I) have a question for you … what were you getting paid when you worked for the defense?”

“Around five thousand, but that includes a lot of background work as well,” Browne replied. “But if you need me for something I would give you a deal and a half!”

(Click to View)

Becky Hill (Pool)

There was a lapse of several weeks before Hill contacted Browne again.

Saturday, June 3, 2023 was the day before Hill was expected to turn her manuscript in for publication – and according to an email she sent to a friend she was “on a time crunch” with the book. It was one of thousands of emails sent from her county email account and obtained by FITSNews in December 2023 through a FOIA request. On that day, Hill was reviewing a mockup for the book cover, writing acknowledgements and asking some to read the manuscript and reply with feedback. The request she made of Browne via text was for information.

“If you can tell me if you know Alex(‘s) involvement in writing the closing argument or did Jim help? Do you know?” Hill asked.

Browne did not reply.

“One more – did the Murdaugh family come out to Eden and visit any?” Hill asked.

“No they didn’t,” Browne said. “But when they got kicked out they went and stayed at John Marvin’s place … I do know that every night Alex called for a meeting with the defense team … but I was asked to leave for those since it was attorney client privilege(d).”  

Two months later Hill’s book was released, which eventually prompted the defense’s motion for a new trial. While that motion was denied by justice Toal on January 29, 2024, the investigation into the allegations against Hill has continued.

Could the release of these text messages be a sign there is much more to unravel about the clerk of court and her activities during the Murdaugh trial?

Stay tuned …

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THE EXHIBIT …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (Provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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20 comments

JustSomeGuy Top fan February 27, 2024 at 5:46 pm

Looks like a bunch of nothing to me.

Reply
SubZeroIQ February 27, 2024 at 6:05 pm

Whom are you trying to provoke here? Is it nothing to you that a clerk of court spies on the defense?

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JustSomeGuy Top fan February 28, 2024 at 9:22 am

I think it’s unnecessarily dramatic to classify anything in the messages (at least before and during the trial) as spying.

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elaine February 28, 2024 at 10:34 am

i hope soon this case goes away! alex needs to rot in prison! you people out here just trying to keep stirring the pot just to make money off of 2 people getting murdered is dispicable and criminal in its own way!!

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SubZeroIQ February 27, 2024 at 6:12 pm

FITS, you are now plagiarizing me! Two days ago, this is what I commented on “the walls are closing in on Becky Hill”:
FITS, your “starving artist” self-description of a week before the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh may be half-correct in that the “artist” is evident in your (if it is yours) choice of the most appropriate and reader-attracting photos for your stories.
Whether you were then, or now still are, “starving” or not is something as to which I have no knowledge and on which I can pass no judgment.
Having complimented your artistry, I have to question your journalism in missing the latest release of an installment of Becky Hill missives; this time texts between her and Doug, and irony-of-ironies, ordered released by none other than Jean Toal.
Doug is the Elmo operator (or “artist”) during Alex Murdaugh’s (“AM”) two-murder trial; Dough was hired by AM’s defense team for $5K/week. When Dick an Jim ran out of money because the trial took longer than expected, Becky Hill brags about master-minding a solution as if she had solved the Middle East’s permanent crisis.
Apparently, either Doug is now about to sue Dick and Jim or Dick and Jim are about to sue Doug; and Jean Toal thought the release of the texts between Doug and Becky Hill might serve to facilitate negotiations and obviate the need of litigation.
To the extent they are decipherable, the texts between Doug and Becky Hill are as shocking as her emails and quite more salacious.
Apparently Doug wants to hit on Jay Bender’s (new?) wife and/or on Kenny Kinsey, Ph.D. because Doug asks Becky if Kenny is gay.
And Becky never misses an opportunity use her connections through AM’s trial to get favors for herself and/or her family. For example, Becky asks Doug if he can find a back-up to Becky’s singing daughter.
More disturbing though is Becky’s efforts to use Doug to spy on the inner workings of AM’s defense team. For instance, Becky asks Doug if AM wrote Jim’s closing argument. Doug bites the hand that fed him by describing Dick and Jim as “snakes in the grass” because they wanted to contract with Doug directly instead of through his company.
Everything about those texts is the opposite of what a clerk of court should be doing. It may not be a case of only perjury but also failure of neutrality and bringing the court system into disrepute.
But who is counting anything against Becky Hill? After all, she helped convict the most hated man in South Carolina.
Hope this comment doesn’t stick in your crow, FITS.

My comment did not stick in your crow, FITS; but you should have given me some credit for alerting you to the messages.

Reply
Terminator44 Top fan February 28, 2024 at 11:11 am

SubZeroIQ – come out of Momma’s basement and get on with your life. Let it go!

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Kidd Top fan February 29, 2024 at 3:54 am

No! This SubZeroIQ has some very interesting things to say. I absolutely enjoy reading her comments so plz leave her alone in her mommas basement. You shush. lol. jk. I do like her comments tho!

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JustSomeGuy Top fan February 29, 2024 at 10:27 am

SubZeroIQ’s take is generally unique. It’s usually too long to hold my attention, but I do like to get the gist before I scroll on. I think the IQ is definitely above zero, but I think she’s a breath away from a straight jacket and a rubber room.

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SubZeroIQ March 1, 2024 at 4:01 pm

Have you any idea how far above zero my real IQ is? If you knew, you would tremble.
But if you are concerned for people with mental health issues, try thinking of poor Cory Howerton Fleming.
The man was clearly depressed almost out of his wits; yet, he was allowed to plead guilty when he was clearly in no condition to make a rational decision due to his depression.
Does YOUR basement have any REAL psychiatry books?

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SubZeroIQ March 1, 2024 at 3:56 pm

Thank you Kidd for your kindness and loyalty.
My reply below to a new commenter summarizes what I have been saying since I got to watch this Murdaugh trial and learn about some of the other cases. So, it may not be new to you; but I hope you enjoy it still.
Best.

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Dianne Lopp Top fan February 29, 2024 at 3:55 pm

He blew his wife’S and son’s heads off. Give it a REST.

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SubZeroIQ March 1, 2024 at 4:15 pm

Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) did NOT kill his wife or his younger son any more than Buster Murdaugh (“BM”) beat Stephen Smith (“SS”) to death with a baseball bat or Maggie Murdaugh (“MM”) killed Gloria Satterfield (“GS”) by pushing her down the seven front steps of the Moselle residence.
The same liars put all those rumors out but succeeded only in FALSELY pinning two murders on AM.

GS died IN HOSPITAL 24 day after having COINCIDENTALLY fallen at Moselle. GS was a chronic, poorly managed, diabetic and died of a documented heart attack IN HOSPITAL caused by her diabetes, not her fall at Moselle.

The vehicular accident which killed SS has been investigated more than the one which killed Princess Diana. So far, THREE forensic pathologist have INDEPENDENTLY CONFIRMED that SS died of motor vehicle versus pedestrian collision.
And Paul and Maggie Murdaugh could not possibly have died as early as the Prosecution claimed. The victims would not have had so little food in their stomachs, and the food would not have been so digested had they died only 15-20 minutes after finishing dinner.
Also, AM’s T-shirt was “spattered” with the blood of the chicken he had extracted from Bubba-the-dog’s jaws but had NO blood or DNA from Paul.
Please review my comments elsewhere for more details.

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Kidd Top fan March 2, 2024 at 8:25 pm

I am sure I will enjoy it just fine..I always do..:)

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Kidd Top fan March 2, 2024 at 8:26 pm

That was meant towards SubZeroIQ

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Kidd Top fan March 11, 2024 at 3:06 am

Fits you are misrepresenting the truth here. Becky did not ask Doug how much getting paid..She asked how much he was getting paid weekly..He was getting $5000 a week..You guys make it look like he only got paid $5,000 and we both know that’s not true and we know that because of the text messages YOU have provided us!

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SubZeroIQ March 21, 2024 at 3:18 pm

Hey FITS, will you stop animalizing Alex Murdaugh for a day, really a day, and start pushing for him to be allowed to attend his mother’s funeral?
Also, will you cover live for us the big, big, big, motions hearing before Judge Morgan in the SECOND Beach case? Or are you now intimidated into staying a hundred mile away from any hearing or court event in which Mark Tinsley and/or Eric Bland is/are involved?

Reply
SubZeroIQ March 25, 2024 at 12:10 pm

Justin Bamberg advertizes on FITSNews; so, this comment of mine will stick in FITS’ crow; but here it is nonetheless:
Few minutes after Justin Bamberg finished denying that Becky Hill’s resignation has anything to do with the on-going investigations, ABC 4 released this statement from Neil Gordon:
“After Hill announced her resignation Monday, Neil Gordon sent out the following statement:
‘A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent interviewed me Friday morning. They expressed a great deal of concern about Becky possibly using her office for personal gain. In their questioning of me, they were honing in on how many different times Becky did book signings, interviews, and speaking engagements during the workday. I sincerely hope her resignation lessens any potential action taken against her, and that it restores public trust in the office of clerk of court.’
Gordon announced he will be making a large donation to charity from profits he made on the book he co-authored with Hill before it was pulled from shelves. Additionally, Gordon said he is writing a new book entitled “Trial Watchers,” which will continue the story from the time of Hill’s admission of plagiarism and subsequent interviews by SLED.”
Again, after having been interviewed by SLED “Friday morning,” announcec his “hope her resignation lessens any potential action taken against her ….”
Deals in the dark while a wrongly-convicted Alex Murdaugh sits in prison, not even given the decency of attending the funeral of his mother, Libby, who had reportedly been a dedicated teacher and no honoring of HER occurs.
It is too late to “restore public trust in the office of clerk of court”; but it may not be too late for Governor McMaster and/or Brian Stirling to allow Alex Murdaugh to attend Ms. Libby’s funeral tomorrow and her internment Wednesday, God so willing.

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SubZeroIQ March 25, 2024 at 3:37 pm

I have been falsely accused of wanting the rules for SCDC inmates attending the funerals of first-degree relatives only for Richard Alexander Murdaugh (“RAM”).
I believe the rules should be changed for everyone; but I had no reason BEFORE TODAY to petition for a rule change because I had NO OCCASION to know about it, if it is REALLY a rule.
Next, the SUPREME law of THIS republic is the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Even the death penalty (to which I am morally opposed in ALL cases) for the worst serial murdere MUST be executed WITHOUT unnecessary pain BUT with the decency of giving the condemned a last meal of his/her choice AND the right to a spiritual advisor to PHYSICALLY lay hands on the condemned to pray for him/her.
In that light, the right to attend the funeral of a first-degree relative (and these are clearly defined in the law) is NOT special treatment but BASIC decency.
Third, I am a defender of decency. If RAM was falsely convicted of being a “family annihilator,” then Becky Hill and her co-sonspirators are unconvicted “decency annihilators.”
Fourth, though I have not had a chance to deeply study the matter, it appears that whether an SCDC prisoner gets to attend the funeral of a first-degree relative or not is NOT by statute but committed to agency discretion.
At a minimum, the agency should consider that Alex Murdaugh is NOT yet final and had a high likelihood of being overturned. So, if, God willing, RAM gets exonerated OF THE MURDERS, he SOME DAY have his freedom back; but he will never get back a last good bye to his mother.
Thanks for your respectful tone and for re-considering your view of my aims, and God bless.

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SubZeroIQ April 16, 2024 at 3:07 pm

This is the ONLY thread on FITSNews on which I can add my comments FROM HOME.
If FITS wants my brilliant takes and updates, he should figure out a way to gift me an honorary free subscription because I do not have the money to buy one and would not subscribe to FITS as a matter of principle even if I had the money to do it.
But here are few updates which I hope will not stick in FITS’ crow.
First, although I am NOT a lawyer, only better than many according to now-Senior-Federal-Judge Joe Anderson, I had warned FITS to go ahead and answer Mark Tinsley’s lawsuit although the Hampton County Public Index STILL does not show the Summons and Complaint ever served on FITSNews or on Will Folks. FITS has now answered, although NOT by his usual lawyers. I secretly knew even FITS’ usual lawyers would not want to take Mark Tinsley on.
Second, I previously noted CORRECTLY that Gloria Satterfield did NOT die at Moselle. I thought she had died in-hospital 24 days. She did die 24 days AFTER her COINCIDENTAL fall at Moselle, but APPARENTLY not in hospital.
Guess where?
According to what is coming out in Nautilus’ lawsuit against Alex Murdaugh and others, Gloria Satterfield died IN HER OWN HOME where her family had her taken out of hospital two days before her death.
According to papers filed in federal court, Nautilus KNEW or had reason to know that Gloria Satterfield had TERMINAL renal failure and needed a kidney transplant to survive. Her same family, which is now playing the victim to the hilt, made the decision to discontinue treatment and let her die.
Also coming out in the papers filed in that Nautilus lawsuit is, to MY shock and disillusionment in both the Flemings and the Murdaughs, is that Alex Murdaugh represented Cory Fleming’s cousin as a guardian at litem for Cory Fleming’s son in suing his own mother, lawyer Eve Fleming.
Separately, Russell Laffitte testified to South Carolina’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel (“SC-ODC”) that the Murdaughs were known to sue each other for insurance claims.
In other words, the REAL victims are not the estates of Gloria Satterfield or of other Fleming and/or Murdaugh clients who got insurance payouts WAY out or proportion to the true value, if any, of their claims.
The REAL victims are WE, insurance buyers, who get our premiums rising and our LEGITMATE claims denied because the insurance defense lawyers roll over for THEIR FRIENDS and play tough-guy against poor-unrepresented victims, or victims represented by lawyers who do not know how the dirty game is played or how to play it.
KIDD, please let me know ON THIS THREAD if you got to see this comment.
God bless.

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SubZeroIQ April 16, 2024 at 7:19 pm

FITS, you let my previous comment through. Thank God for that, and thank you for posting, among other things (“inter alia” in Latin), SLED’s timeline.
Are you having pangs of conscience for having been misled by Malicious Mandy Matney (“MMM”) and her self-labeled “work wife” Liz Farrell into falsely pinning two murders on Richard Alexander Murdaugh (“RAM”)?
Or are you, MMM, and her menage a trois of MMM, her puppy-dog husband, and her work wife, cut from the same cloth?
Perhaps this will stick in your crow because Justin Bamberg, who advertizes on your outlet, is TOTALLY in MMM’s corner. Indeed, MMM guided Justin Bamberg to some clients for whom RAM had obtained settlements WAY out of proportion to the true value, if any, of their claims but kept the difference to himself.
So, are you still in that web of deceipt or are you trying to break free from it and become honest without admitting that you were previously dishonest, or at least kept dishonest company?
I juxtaposed the SLED timeline you published with MMM’s book “Blood on their Hands” and with what coming out in Federal Judge Gergel’s court in the Nautilus lawsuit, along with my memories of RAM’s two-murder trial and with interviews given by Prosecution members and their “star-witnesses” and jurors after the trial and came to the conclusion that the Prosecution and SLED were pushed by MMM and possibly YOU to bring the murder charges against RAM to increase traffic on your outlet and audience and subscriptions to MMM’s podcast.
For starters, who is the woman who jumped off a bridge in Bluffton right after Paul and Maggie were murdered?
Start there and you shall, God willing, who the real three or four women killers are, if you do not already know.
To be continued, God so willing, and FITS so permitting.

Reply

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