COLUMBIA, S.C. – Convicted killer Alex Murdaugh was denied a new trial despite testimony from a juror who acknowledge hearing condemning comments by a county clerk prior to making her decision to find him guilty. The clerk reportedly had aspirations to write a book about the highly publicized double homicide.
Murdaugh, 55, was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole for the 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and youngest son Paul, Law Officer reported once the former attorney was sentenced in March 2023.
Murdaugh’s lawyers have argued that he deserves a new trial since Colleton County Clerk of Court Becky Hill unduly influenced jurors in order to get a book deal.
Nevertheless, South Carolina Judge Jean Toal — a retired justice on South Carolina’s Supreme Court — denied Murdaugh’s bid for a new trial on Monday while condemning Hill in her remarks about the ruling, CNN reported.
Judge Toal said Hill was “attracted by the siren call of celebrity,” and that she “wanted to write a book about the trial and expressed that as early as November 2022, long before the trial began.”
“She made comments about Murdaugh’s demeanor as he testified and she made some of those comments before he testified to at least one and maybe more jurors,” Judge Toal noted.
According to the Daily Wire, Hill has denied the allegations levied against her, but the judge determined Hill told another clerk as well as others of “her desire for a guilty verdict because it would sell books.”
Despite the comments, Judge Toal declared, “Did clerk of court Hill’s comments have any impact on the verdict of the jury? I find that the answer to this question is no.”
“I simply do not believe that the authority of our South Carolina Supreme Court requires a new trial in a very lengthy trial such as this on the strength of some fleeting and foolish comments by a publicity-influenced clerk of courts,” Judge Toal said.
The judge personally interviewed each juror and studied the complete transcript of the weeks-long trial prior to rendering her decision, CNN reported.
The jurors “obeyed the instructions of the court, they obeyed their oath,” Judge Toal said. “These good and decent citizens of Colleton County did their duty and rendered their verdict without fear or favor. It was a difficult task.”