In March 2023, prominent South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was found guilty for the murder of his wife and younger son. According to NPR, the jury deliberated for a swift three hours after a trial that lasted nearly six weeks. During the trial, Murdaugh's defense attorney attempted to poke holes in the investigative work done by the police and forensics. Prosecutors encouraged jurors to stick to the facts, but it turns out that wasn't possible for everyone on the jury.
In January 2024, a juror from Murdaugh's trial testified that "comments made by Colleton County, South Carolina, Clerk of Court influenced her verdict," per CNN. The clerk in question is named Rebecca "Becky" Hill and her reasons for allegedly doing this stem from greed and her desire to snag a book deal from this experience. Here's what we know about Becky Hill and her involvement in the Murdaugh trial.
Becky Hill may have directly affected the outcome of the Murdaugh trial.
A juror testified Jan. 29, 2024 that Hill was "inappropriately discussing the case with them," as CNN reports, "and pressuring them to conclude deliberations quickly" — but Hill denied this occurred. Said juror, who goes by Juror Z, told the court she was swayed by comments made Hill made to the jury during the trial. "Watch his actions," Hill allegedly said regarding Murdaugh. "Watch him closely."
These statements made Juror Z feel as if Murdaugh was "already guilty." When asked if Hill's remarks influenced Juror Z when it came to Murdaugh's guilty verdict, she told the judge, "Yes, ma’am." Despite Juror Z's experience, other jurors did not have this experience. Juror C shared that he "wasn’t privy" to anything Hill said. Another juror also said they did not hear anything Hill said during the trial.
Per Murdaugh's attorneys, court clerk Becky Hill allegedly engaged in jury tampering so she could write a book.
What might cause Hill to allegedly engage in jury tampering? Sadly it could come down to good old-fashioned greed. In September 2023, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson asked state law enforcement to investigate Hill because he believed she "betrayed her oath of office for money and fame." A motion cited excerpts from Hill's book Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders as well.
"I did not tell the jury ‘not to be fooled’ by evidence presented by Mr. Murdaugh’s attorneys," said Hill in a three-page affidavit, referring to a prior affidavit in which Juror Z claimed Hill had said this to jurors. Hill also said she never told jurors, "Y’all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don’t let this distract or mislead you." Hill's book was co-authored by Neil R. Gordon, who told CNN these allegations are not true. Not only did he and Hill not have a book deal, but they "spent $30,000 of their own money."
Depsite this, Gordon has accused Hill of plagiarizing parts of the book. Through her attorneys, Hill admitted to using parts of a reporter’s draft article and feels "deeply remorseful" about doing so. She chalked this up to an "unfortunate lapse in judgment” due to “tight time deadlines." As of the time of this writing, Hill is being investigated for jury tampering and allegations of using her "elected position for personal gain," reported CNN.