SC

Becky Hill Saga: New Clerk Fires Former Clerk’s Top Deputy

Cleaning house in Colleton County …

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In the latest chapter of the ongoing Becky Hill saga, the interim replacement for the disgraced Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court has reportedly fired the office’s top deputy.

Hill’s predecessor as clerk – Patricia Grant – was recently appointed interim clerk after Hill resigned from office two weeks ago. In one of her first major moves since taking over the office, Grant fired deputy clerk of court Gary Hale Jr. – Hill’s chief lieutenant. Readers will recall Hale recently announced his candidacy for this office back in February.

Grant, who served as Colleton’s clerk from 2000 to 2020, was appointed to serve as clerk on an interim basis by governor Henry McMaster following Hill’s resignation on March 25, 2024. News of her selection was first reported by FITSNews. Grant is widely respected for her service. In sharp contrast to Hill – who resigned amid a mushrooming scandal – Grant was honored with the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, on the occasion of her retirement.

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The controversy surrounding Hill has been brewing since last fall when allegations of jury tampering were raised by the legal team of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh. Her resignation came not long after our media outlet reported that a multi-faceted criminal investigation into her had “picked up significant momentum in recent weeks.”

Last week, we reported on additional allegations against Hill related to taxpayer-funded payments made to a deputy who allegedly cleaned Hill’s house.

Hill is the focus of multiple complaints filed with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC), including one related to her book about Murdaugh’s double homicide trial – Behind the Doors of Justice. She is also being investigated by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for abusing her position of public trust, obstructing justice and perjury.

Murdaugh’s defense team claimed her tampering was motivated by a desire for fame and financial gain – suggesting a guilty verdict would bolster book sales. In December 2023, Hill admitted to plagiarizing a portion of the book, causing her co-author to part ways with her and take the book “off the market.”

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On January 23, 2024, Justice Jean Toal, who was appointed to oversee an evidentiary hearing on the matter, denied Murdaugh’s motion for a new trial despite finding Hill lacking in credibility.

As for Hale, he first appeared in this sage in connection with a controversial photo used to promote Hill’s ill-fated book. The photo in question – an oft-discussed image of Murdaugh “resting in his holding cell while the jury deliberated” – was used to drum up sales of the book last spring. Hill claimed Hale snapped the photo from a publicly available monitor located in the main hallway of the courthouse – i.e. an area where anyone with a cell phone could have presumably taken a picture. In reality, though, the image was taken from a large-screen television located within Hill’s office.

Hale has since admitted to investigators that he never took the picture, sources familiar with the investigation have confirmed.

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(FITSTube)

Hale, a former Colleton County sheriff’s deputy and detention center supervisor, was hired by Hill and subsequently promoted to the position of deputy clerk. Despite his termination, Hale remains eligible to run for election for the office of county clerk of court. Also running? Colleton County detention center administrator Wanda Taylor.

A veteran deputy, Taylor was the first female ever to attain the rank of captain in the Dorchester County sheriff’s office. A native of Colleton County, she has served as detention center administrator since July 2021.

Hill has yet to be criminally charged in connection with any of these investigations, however her son – former Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hill – was charged with wiretapping after “willfully and feloniously intercepting electronic phone communication.” This alleged wiretapping – which targeted Colleton County’s deputy administrator Meagan Utsey – was reportedly linked to an effort to keep his mother “abreast” of the ethics investigations into his mother.

Stay tuned to FITSNews for the latest developments as the investigations into Hill’s conduct in office continue.

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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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1 comment

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VERITAS Top fan April 8, 2024 at 6:16 pm

Leave it to the temporary to do the necessary.

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