Murdaugh murder trial clerk suddenly resigns as her lawyer claims there’s nothing to see here


Alex Murdaugh and Becky Hill, inset on the left

Main image: Alex Murdaugh stands during a break in his trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday, February 24, 2023 (Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool); Becky Hill during a press conference in front of the same courthouse on March 25, 2024 (Screengrab via WLTX).

Rebecca “Becky” H. Hill, an unlikely but pivotal figure in the ongoing Alex Murdaugh post-murder conviction appeal, is no longer the clerk of court for Colleton County, South Carolina.

During a Monday morning press conference in front of the antebellum courthouse in Walterboro, the long-embattled elected official resigned her position effective immediately, adding that she would forego reelection just before the filing deadline, citing family reasons.

In September 2023, defense attorneys accused Hill of engaging in several instances of jury tampering during Murdaugh’s murder trial. Other, related scandals quickly rose to the surface over Hill’s behavior during and after the longest criminal trial in Palmetto State history.

The now-former clerk recalled her time on the Murdaugh case.

“Our small town came together and made everyone proud,” Hill said during remarks spanning around three minutes total. “Managing a trial of such importance to the people of South Carolina, as well as the national and international media interest and public scrutiny, has caused me to reflect upon decisions involving my stay in the Office of the Clerk of Court. And so, after much reflection, I have decided that it is best not to run again for reelection. I will now be able to focus on being a wife, a mother and grandmother to my two grand boys. And will be spending time with the people who mean the most to me.”

The Republican official also highlighted her efforts at modernizing the office she today departs — specifically in the areas of passport, e-filing, and notary services. Her exit, she added, was to make room for fellow members of the GOP who might be suited to the role.

In January, retired State Supreme Court Justice Jean Toal denied a new trial for Murdaugh, the disgraced lawyer convicted of killing his wife and son. The court found Hill, whose alleged misconduct was the basis for the motion for a new trial, was “not completely credible as a witness” and had made improper comments before and during the trial because she was “attracted by the siren call of celebrity.” Ultimately, Toal determined, Hill’s behavior did not sufficiently influence the jury.

Hill was introduced, and flanked, by her attorney, South Carolina State Rep. Justin Bamberg, who disclaimed any connection between the surprise announcement and the raft of issues his client faces.

“Let me be extremely clear,” Bamberg, a Democrat, said during the press conference. “Today is not in response — whatsoever — to anything going on with any investigation or anything of that nature. And I’m gonna say that one more time: today is not in response to any new development of some investigation or anything like that.”

As part of their post-trial blitz to drum up interest in the jury tampering allegations, Murdaugh’s defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina, requesting an “urgent” federal criminal investigation into whether Hill deprived Murdaugh “of his rights under the Constitution.”

Notably, Murdaugh’s lawyers implicitly rejected the notion of Hill being investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. In their letter, they hailed the FBI as “unimpeachable” with agents marked by their “professionalism and integrity,” a sharp contrast to the work of state investigators. During the trial, the defense repeatedly assailed the integrity of the investigation and the competence of SLED agents.

“If FBI agents interview the jurors, the truth will be known, whatever the truth may be,” the letter reads. “The same cannot be said of any investigation conducted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), who has a vested interest in upholding Mr. Murdaugh’s conviction.”

While it is presently unclear if the defense request to get the FBI on the job ever panned out, Hill is under two separate criminal investigations by SLED: one related to the jury-tampering allegations, and one related to whether or not she used her office for personal gain.

The day after Christmas last year, Hill admitted to plagiarizing a passage from her self-published, co-authored Murdaugh trial memoir.

That book, plagiarism aside, is part of the basis for the secondary investigation into leveraging her elected office. Last week, SLED interviewed co-author Neil Gordon — who discovered the plagiarism and confronted Hill about it before unpublishing the book — about whether or not Hill ever attended “book signings” or other such events while she was on the public clock, according to a statement.

“A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent interviewed me Friday morning,” Gordon said in a statement provided to Law&Crime. “They expressed a great deal of concern about Becky possibly using her office for personal gain. In their questioning of me, they were honing in on how many different times Becky did book signings, interviews, and speaking engagements during the workday. I sincerely hope her resignation lessens any potential action taken against her, and that it restores public trust in the office of clerk of court.”

Bamberg appeared to anticipate this development.

“We will not address any investigation stuff, whether it be SLED or State Ethics or anything like that,” her attorney added. “If you do ask, I’m gonna dodge it. Because we’re not gonna comment on that. We’re not gonna detract from the positive nature of today. The bittersweet positive nature of today — with that.”

Bamberg did, however, address the controversies surrounding Hill in regards to the upcoming elections, saying “there would be a degree of a cloud over that” contest should she remain in office — saying the resignation is also “to the benefit to the citizens of Colleton County.”

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