Alex Murdaugh requests new murder trial, alleges jury tampering in appeal

Alex Murdaugh requests new murder trial, alleges jury tampering in appeal

Michael M. DeWitt, Jr.

Claire Thornton
 USA TODAY NETWORKplayShow CaptionHide Caption#videoDetailsToggle{color:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));cursor:pointer;display:inline-block;font-family:var(–sans-serif,sans-serif);font-size:var(–type-7);font-weight:var( –font-weight-bold,900);line-height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-bottom:-8px}#vdt_hide{margin-bottom:10px}.vdt-flex[hidden]{display:none}.vdt-svg{fill:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers ask for new trial due to jury tamperingLawyers for convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh asked for new trial after jurors claimed a clerk had inappropriate communication.Ryan Ross, USA TODAY

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Convicted murderer Richard “Alex” Murdaugh will be allowed to argue jury tampering influenced the outcome of his trial on charges he killed his wife and son.

The South Carolina Court of Appeals stayed Murdaugh’s murder convictions and twin life sentences Tuesday, putting the outcome of that case on hold until a lower court hears Murdaugh’s request for a fresh trial.

Murdaugh’s defense team petitioned for a new trial in September, alleging Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill had inappropriate communications with jurors, denying their client a fair trial. The lawyers contend Hill’s communications may have helped remove jurors sympathetic Murdaugh and swayed others.

Hill, who read the guilty verdict in the high-profile case and later published a tell-all book, has denied the allegations.

Now, the matter will now be heard and decided in state circuit court.

Murdaugh was convicted of two counts of murder in the 2021 deaths of his wife and son during a six-week trial in Walterboro, South Carolina. It concluded on March 3, 2023, with Judge Clifton Newman sentencing him to two life sentences. Within days, his attorneys filed a notice appealing that verdict and sentence.

Murdaugh’s lawyers praised the appellate court ruling as “welcome news.”

“We intend to proceed expeditiously and will seek a full blown evidentiary hearing addressing the serious allegations pertaining to improper jury communications by the Clerk of Court,” Richard Harpootlian and Jim Griffin said in a statement.

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The S.C. Attorney General’s Office opposes Murdaugh’s claims. The S.C. Law Enforcement Division is currently investigating the alleged jury tampering, but no hearings have been announced.

Hill’s co-author, Neil Gordon, has said he and Hill did not meet to discuss or plan the book until after Murdaugh’s trial, and that Hill reached out to a media attorney and the state Ethics Commission before writing the book.

Hill is being represented by attorney Justin Bamberg, who also represents several of Murdaugh’s alleged financial crime victims, and Will Lewis, a former assistant U.S. District Attorney known for prosecuting high-profile white-collar cases.

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