Alex Murdaugh gives scathing response to South Carolina prosecutors in jury tampering saga

Alex Murdaugh has given a scathing response to South Carolina prosecutors as the saga surrounding allegations of jury tampering at his double murder trial continues.

Attorneys for the convicted killer filed a new motion on Thursday in which they accused the South Carolina Attorney General’s office of acting in “bad faith” in the state’s response to Murdaugh’s bid for a new trial.

“The State unfortunately has chosen to respond in bad faith to these serious allegations,” write attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin.

“[The state] wants Mr Murdaugh to spend weeks jumping through preposterous procedural hoops invented only for him.”

The filing marks the latest to and fro between the disgraced legal dynasty heir and South Carolina prosecutors as he demands a new trial based on damning accusations levelled against Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill.

Earlier this month, Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a bombshell motion accusing Ms Hill of breaking her oath by allegedly tampering with the jury in the case and pressuring them into returning a guilty verdict against him.

They claim that she advised the panel not to be “fooled by” Murdaugh’s testimony on the stand or “misled” by the defence’s evidence, pushed them to reach a quick guilty verdict, and misrepresented “critical and material information to the trial judge in her campaign to remove a juror she believed to be favorable to the defense”.

One of the most damning accusations centres around the dismissal of juror number 785 just hours before jury deliberations began.

According to Murdaugh’s attorneys, Ms Hill “invented a story about a Facebook post to remove a juror she believed might not vote guilty”.

Judge Clifton Newman removed the female juror from the panel for allegedly discussing the case with at least three other people outside of the court. The woman then prompted some light-hearted – and widely-reported – relief when she asked to pick up her “dozen eggs” from the jury room before she left.

According to the motion, Ms Hill had gone to Judge Newman on 27 February – the day after Murdaugh testified – claiming that she had seen a post in local Facebook group “Walterboro Word of Mouth” from juror 785’s former husband Tim Stone.

The post purportedly claimed that the juror was drinking with her ex-husband and, when she became drunk, she expressed her views on whether Murdaugh was innocent or guilty.

A follow-up post from an account called Timothy Stone apologised for the post saying that he was driven by “Satan”.

Alex Murdaugh in court on 14 September to face state financial fraud charges (AP)
Alex Murdaugh in court on 14 September to face state financial fraud charges (AP)

In a new motion this week, Murdaugh’s attorneys claim that the Mr Stone behind the Facebook posts was actually a random Georgia man who was ranting about his wife’s aunt – and has no connection to the case.

Murdaugh’s attorneys are claiming that – based on these allegations – he should be granted a new murder trial.

AG Alan Wilson’s office responded to the motions on 15 September, saying that investigators probing the accusations had already found “significant factual disputes” with the claims and saying that the defence’s motion was “procedurally defective” because Murdaugh’s attorneys didn’t disclose when or how they learned of the allegations.

Specifically, the state argued that the motion should have included an affidavit from Murdaugh where he swore that he was not aware of the allegations against Ms Hill during his trial.

In Thursday’s filing, Murdaugh’s attorneys said the state was responding “in bad faith to these serious allegations” and argued that it merely “invents a preposterous procedural requirement” that Murdaugh must turn over an affidavit.

Despite claiming there is no requirement to do so, his attorneys did submit an affidavit signed by Murdaugh together with the new filing.

The filing also doubles down on the claims made against Ms Hill saying that the “very serious allegations” are “not mere speculation but have sworn evidentiary support”.

Murdaugh’s attorneys also hit out at the state’s request for an extension so that it can “conduct its “objective investigation” free from oversight and deadlines set by a trial court” – saying this was a bid to “conduct unsupervised factual discovery”.

SLED – the same state agency that led the investigation into the murders of Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul – is investigating the allegations of jury tampering. Murdaugh’s attorneys have argued that SLED should not be leading hthe probe but should stand down to let federal authorities run it.

Maggie and Paul were found shot dead on the family’s 1,700-acre Moselle estate back on 7 June 2021. Alex Murdaugh had called 911 claiming to have found their bodies.

During his high-profile murder trial, jurors heard how Paul was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun while he stood in the feed room of the dog kennels on the affluent family’s 1,700-acre Moselle estate. The second shot to his head blew his brain almost entirely out of his skull.

Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys Phillip Barber, from left, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin at press conference announcing bid for new trial (AP)
Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys Phillip Barber, from left, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin at press conference announcing bid for new trial (AP)

After killing Paul, prosecutors said Murdaugh then grabbed a .300 Blackout semiautomatic rifle and opened fire on Maggie as she tried to flee from her husband.

During the dramatic six-week trial, Murdaugh confessed to lying about his alibi on the night of the murders but continued to claim his innocence of the killings.

The jury didn’t agree and the disgraced legal scion was convicted in March of the brutal murders.

The new filing came the same day that Murdaugh pleaded guilty to a slew of financial charges and one day after a new Netflix season of Murdaugh Murders aired, heavily featuring Ms Hill as a talking head.

Murdaugh appeared in federal court where he pleaded guilty to a string of financial crimes – admitting that he stole millions of dollars from law firm clients for his own personal benefit.

Appearing in South Carolina US District Court on Thursday, the double murderer entered a guilty plea to 22 federal charges including wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

While Murdaugh admitted to stealing millions from clients during bombshell courtroom testimony at his murder trial, this marked the first time that he has ever pleaded guilty to committing a crime.

Now, he faces up to 30 years in federal prison on some of the charges.

Under the agreement, federal prosecutors have agreed that the sentence would be served concurrently with any state conviction on the same charges.

Kennels where Maggie and Paul were murdered (AP)
Kennels where Maggie and Paul were murdered (AP)

It means that Murdaugh will likely remain behind bars for a long time – even if he wins his fight to be granted a new trial on murder charges.

In total, Murdaugh is facing more than 100 state and federal charges over his vast multi-million-dollar fraud scheme which went on for more than a decade.

According to prosecutors, Murdaugh worked with co-conspirators and friends ex-attorney Cory Fleming and ex-Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte to swindle clients out of millions of dollars.

Among the victims was the family of Murdaugh’s dead housekeeper Gloria Satterfield – who died in a mystery trip and fall at the family estate in 2018. Murdaugh allegedly stole more than $4m in a wrongful death suit payout from the family.

Fleming and Laffitte have already been convicted in federal court for their parts in the convicted killer’s white collar fraud scheme, with the former sentenced to four years and the latter to seven years.

The three men appeared in state court together last week over the financial fraud scheme where Murdaugh was told his trial would begin in November.