Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca “Becky” Hill has not yet responded to allegations of jury tampering in Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial - but her co-author is staunchly defending the clerk he describes as someone of integrity and genuine character.
Neil R Gordon appeared on Court TV Tuesday night just hours after Murdaugh’s defence attorneys filed a motion requesting a new trial for the convicted killer on the basis that Ms Hill tampered with the jury because she was driven by fame and a desire to secure a book deal.
Mr Gordon and Ms Hill worked together for months after the trial on a tell-all book titled Behind the Doors of Justice: The Murdaugh Murders, which was released on 1 August.
Mr Gordon told Court TV’s Vinnie Politan on Tuesday that he was shocked when he heard about the allegations and what Murdaugh’s attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin believed to be Ms Hill’s alleged motivation.
“I was pretty upset at what Harpootlian said was the motivation Becky had,” Mr Gordon said. “Last time I checked, Simon and Schuster did not send us a check for $200,000.”
Mr Gordon explained that his family and Ms Hill’s family together forked over their own money, about $30,000, to self-publish the book.
“We put up our own money because we thought it was an interesting story to tell,” he added.
“We felt like it was a story that should be told,” adding that he doesn’t believe there would be another trial like this one in our lifetime.
After six weeks of harrowing testimony back in March, the jury took just three hours to convict Murdaugh in the June 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul. It was Ms Hill who read the verdict.
Now, months later, the defence team has accused the court clerk of telling jurors not to trust him when he testified in his own defence, having private conversations with the jury foreperson and pressuring jurors to come to a quick verdict.
The request filed by Murdaugh’s lawyers on Tuesday also accuses Ms Hill of giving jury members business cards from reporters during the trial. After the verdict, she traveled to New York City with three of the jurors to do interviews.
Ms Hill has not released an official statement, except for a brief comment to Court TV, in which she told the outlet the allegations are “untrue.”
Mr Gordon said he has spoken with her, and said the “allegations are so deep” that the court clerk has hired legal counsel and they are planning to put out a statement in the “near future.”
“What I do know is that she will answer each and every one of these allegations truthfully.”
When asked about any possible conversations Ms Hill might have had with the jury, Mr Gordon said his friend, who he described as a “very spiritual person”, is known to pray with her staff.
And knowing the jury to also be very prayerful, he said he asked her if she ever prayed with them.
She responded to him, “Oh no no no. No legal entity is allowed to have prayer with the jury,” Mr Gordon said.
“It was very clear that there was a line there,” he added.
Mr Gordon and Ms Hill met through his wife, photographer Melissa Brinson Gordon, who, like many in the area, attended the jury proceedings of the trial that had gripped the nation.
She had requested to take a selfie with Ms Hill which eventually led to friendship and talk of a mutual desire to capture the trial in Ms Hill’s words and Melissa’s photos.
In the motion filed on Tuesday citing allegations against Ms Hill, Murdaugh’s attorney Mr Harpootlian, a state senator and lawyer for 50 years, said trial court clerks “aren’t someone who should even talk to them about the case. I’ve never heard of that.”
The motion claims that when Murdaugh took the stand, Ms Hill instructed the jury to “watch him closely,” to “look at his actions,” and to “look at his movements” on the stand – something at least one juror said they understood to mean that Murdaugh was guilty.
When the defence presented evidence, they were allegedly urged not “to be fooled”.
The motion also claims that Ms Hill had frequent private conversations with the jury foreperson and repeatedly asked jurors for their opinions about Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson released a brief statement on the motion, saying only that “we are currently reviewing the defense’s latest motion and will respond through the legal process at the appropriate time”.
Maggie and Paul were found shot dead on the family’s 1,700-acre Moselle estate back on 7 June 2021. Alex Murdaugh had called 911 claiming to have found their bodies.
During his high-profile murder trial, jurors heard how Paul was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun while he stood in the feed room of the dog kennels on the affluent family’s 1,700-acre Moselle estate. The second shot to his head blew his brain almost entirely out of his skull.
After killing Paul, prosecutors said Murdaugh then grabbed a .300 Blackout semiautomatic rifle and opened fire on Maggie as she tried to flee from her husband.
During the dramatic six-week trial, Murdaugh confessed to lying about his alibi on the night of the murders but continued to claim his innocence of the killings.
The jury didn’t agree and the disgraced legal scion was convicted in March of the brutal murders.