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Alex Murdaugh seeks new trial in murders of wife and son, claiming clerk tampered with jury

Convicted murderer and disgraced former lawyer Alex Murdaugh is seeking a new trial in South Carolina, alleging the court clerk tampered with the jury as his lawyers claim there is “newly discovered evidence” in the case.

Murdaugh, who is still facing charges of financial impropriety related to his family’s law firm and the death of his former housekeeper, was convicted in March of killing his wife, Maggie, and son Paul in 2021.

Attorneys for the 55-year-old alleged in a new court filing that Rebecca Hill, Colleton County’s Clerk of Court, engaged in intentional misconduct — deliberately violating a defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial before an impartial jury — to secure financial gain for herself.

Hill self-published a book on the case called “Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders” in July.

Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, attorneys for Murdaugh, are requesting an evidentiary hearing that they said in a news conference Tuesday will give them subpoena power so they can request phone records and emails in addition to speaking to witnesses. Ultimately, they are hoping for a new trial.

Murdaugh was convicted of both murders after a six-week trial in which he testified in his own defense. He was sentenced to life behind bars. He denied any involvement in the killings.

“I respect this court, but I’m innocent,” Murdaugh told the judge ahead of sentencing. “I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife Maggie, and I would never under any circumstances hurt my son.”

Now Murdaugh’s attorneys claim Hill “instructed jurors not to be ‘misled’ by evidence presented in Mr. Murdaugh’s defense. She told jurors not to be ‘fooled by’ Mr. Murdaugh’s testimony in his own defense,” they said in a court filing.

She also had “frequent private conversations with the jury foreperson,” “asked jurors for their opinions about Mr. Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence,” “invented a story about a Facebook post to remove a juror she believed might not vote guilty” and “pressured the jurors to reach a quick verdict,” they allege.

The new filing contains sworn affidavits from three of the jurors, identified only by their numbers, as well as excerpts from Hill’s book.

“Ms. Hill did these things to secure for herself a book deal and media appearances that would not happen in the event of a mistrial. Ms. Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame,” Murdaugh’s attorneys wrote.

When they shared the affidavits with Murdaugh, “He was astonished, he was shaking, he was in disbelief,” Griffin said Tuesday afternoon.

The jurors spoke with the attorneys because “they’re upset with the way this played out,” Harpootlian said, though he could not comment on whether the jurors regretted their votes to convict.

“We were hitting brick walls until her book came out, and then jurors who obviously were not comfortable with how she handled matters were even less comfortable with her going on a book tour, making money off what she did,” Griffin said.

Griffin and Harpootlian said in a statement they also asked the South Carolina U.S. attorney to open a federal investigation.

CBS News has reached out to Hill for comment but has not received a response.

–Elizabeth Campbell contributed to this report.

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