(IntegrityPress.org) – Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh was in court on January 16th in Richland County, South Carolina, advocating for a new trial. Murdaugh was convicted in March of last year for the June 2021 murder of his wife, Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22. Murdaugh was also sentenced to decades in November for a litany of financial crimes. The cases are separate and distinct.
Lawyers for Murdaugh focused their argument for a new murder trial on allegations Colleton County Clerk Beck Hill had tampered with the jury by suggesting they ignore Murdaugh’s testimony and return a quick guilty verdict.
South Carolina Justice Jean Toal set the standard for Murdaugh to receive a new trial: his team must prove that the jury pool was prejudiced before rendering their guilty verdict.
Murdaugh’s lawyers are Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin. Harpootlian said he wanted to have the previous jurors testify as to what Hill said to them. Arguing for the state, prosecutor Creighton Waters advocated for them to give private testimony. Toal ultimately rendered a ruling that the jurors can appear in court and give their testimony on the record.
Attorney for two of the jurors, Joe McCulloch, speaking with Fox News, said that he believed some jurors were misled to believe they’d have total anonymity which isn’t possible in some criminal proceedings.
McCulloch added that jury duty is an irregular experience for most Americans, and that generally the system should act to encourage participation. He would prefer the experience be as private as possible, but that’s simply not the case in a situation like this one.
Murdaugh’s team claims Hill made an appeal to the jurors to return with a quick guilty verdict, informed them to disregard his testimony given under-oath, and was financially invested in a guilty plea. They argued that she received media attention and a book deal that wouldn’t have happened if there was a mistrial. They suggested that Hill violated her oath of office so she could personally enrich herself.
Hill is under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in two separate probes. The first is investigating allegations that Hill used her job to drive sales of her book. The book has been criticized for plagiarizing portions of her content from a BBC article and sales have since been halted.
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