(NewsReady.com) – Alex Murdaugh was once one of the most powerful men in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. That all changed when he viciously murdered his wife and son. A judge has now denied his request for a second trial, despite allegations of jury tampering.
On January 29, Judge Jean Toal denied Murdaugh’s request for a new trial after hearing testimony about jury tampering. During the hearing, the judge and defense questioned Rebecca Hill, Colleton County clerk, and all 12 jurors about remarks she made during the trial last year. One member of the jury said the clerk made comments indicating that she believed the defendant was guilty. Two other members of the jury said they also heard the remarks, but it didn’t impact their verdict.
Hill denied ever speaking to the jurors about the case. She was accused of telling members of the jury to watch Murdaugh’s body language. Murdaugh’s defense also called Rhonda McElveen, the Barnwell County clerk, to the stand. According to her, she helped Hill during the trial. At some point, McElveen said Hill suggested to her that they should write a book about the trial. Hill allegedly said they would get more money if the defendant was found guilty.
The juror who testified said Hill “made it seem like [Murdaugh] was already guilty.” The juror was asked if it influenced her when she voted to find the defendant guilty. The juror responded, “Yes, ma’am.” She also said she felt pressured by the other jurors to find him guilty.
Judge Toal criticized Hill in his decision. She said she wouldn’t grant a new trial because the defense hadn’t met the bar to set aside Murdaugh’s guilty verdict and life sentence. The judge criticized the clerk, saying she was “attracted by the siren call of celebrity.” She also said she hadn’t found her “completely credible.”
Murdaugh was found guilty of shooting his wife, Margaret, and son, Paul, to death on their South Carolina property in June 2021. His attorney has vowed to appeal the latest decision.
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