Alex Murdaugh’s Lawyers Seek New Trial After Stunning Allegations of Jury Tampering Against Court Clerk

Joshua Boucher/The State via AP

It’s been six months since a jury found Alex Murdaugh guilty of killing his wife and son in June 2021. After a six week trial that included Murdaugh taking the stand in his own defense and a trip to the crime scene, it took the jurors just three hours to return the verdict. Judge Clifton Newman then sentenced Murdaugh to two consecutive life sentences. 

Murdaugh, who is incarcerated at the McCormick Correctional Institution on the South Carolina-Georgia border, has subsequently agreed to plead guilty to federal charges that he stole millions of dollars from clients. He is set to appear before a judge later this month in that case, and the guilty plea is expected to result in additional jail time.

In the meantime, his defense team filed a bombshell 65-page appeal on Tuesday saying Murdaugh deserves a new murder trial because Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill allegedly tampered with the jury. On Thursday’s show, Megyn was joined by lawyers Jonna Spilbor and David Wohl to discuss the stunning claims and what it could mean for Murdaugh’s conviction.

Allegations of Jury Tampering

Clerk of court Hill, who is an elected official, is accused by Murdaugh’s attorneys of going to extraordinary measures to influence the jury. They came to this conclusion after speaking to four jurors who produced similar stories and included sworn statements from two of them in the legal filing.

According to the appeal, Hill – who has since written a book about her experience working on the case – allegedly had private chats with the jury foreperson, told the jury “not to be fooled” by the defense, instructed jurors to watch Murdaugh closely and “look at his movements” while he was on that stand, and refused to let jurors who smoked take a cigarette break until a verdict was reached. One juror said in a sworn statement that they understood Hill’s comments to mean Murdaugh was guilty.

The filing claims Hill “asked jurors about their opinions about Mr. Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence” and “instructed them not to believe evidence presented in Mr. Murdaugh’s defense, including his own testimony.” Furthermore, “she lied to the judge to remove a juror she believed might not vote guilty,” the lawyers wrote. “And she pressured jurors to reach a guilty verdict quickly so she could profit from it.”

Murdaugh’s defense has asked the FBI to investigate Hill due to concerns that South Carolina state agents may be too familiar with the case. They are also requesting the case be moved from the court of appeals to trial court to begin the process of a new trial. Prosecutors have 10 days to respond to the filing.

For her part, Hill does not currently face any criminal charges, though she has hired a legal team.

The Seriousness of the ‘Infuriating’ Allegations

Megyn said it doesn’t matter whether you believe Murdaugh is guilty or innocent, the claims against Hill are “infuriating” because they undermine “the sanctity of the procedure of our system of jurisprudence.”

If true, Wohl said this situation is unlike anything he has seen in his more than three decades in practice. “If that happened or even something close to that happened, that’s jury intimidation in all 50 states,” he said. “That in and of itself is a crime.”

Spilbor noted that what Hill is accused of doing goes far beyond the role of the clerk of court. “She is really a concierge to the jury,” she explained. “You make sure the women’s room has toilet paper, you make sure the pencils have erasers, you make sure the pizza is ordered on time… In a trial like this, how was she having one-on-one conversations?” 

While the claims seem “sensational,” Spilbor said they could have the ability to “change the whole jury system” going forward. “When jurors can make money off being a juror, if a clerk can make money off being the clerk… you invite this,” she noted. “What are we going to do about that long term?”

In the meantime, it appears Murdaugh may have legitimate grounds for a new trial. “For right now, Murdaugh definitely deserves a hearing,” she concluded. “I can’t see a judge denying a hearing, and this hearing very well may be successful.”

You can check out the entire Kelly’s Court by tuning in to episode 622 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.