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Alex Murdaugh Denied New Murder Trial After Jury Tampering Allegation

Murdaugh's attorneys asked for a new trial after accusing Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill of jury tampering

<p>Tracy Glantz/The State via AP</p> Alex Murdaugh on Jan. 16, 2024

Tracy Glantz/The State via AP

Alex Murdaugh on Jan. 16, 2024

Alex Murdaugh has been denied a new murder trial after his lawyers alleged jury tampering at the hands of Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill.

Monday's hearing came after Murdaugh's attorneys accused Hill of tampering with the jury during the double-murder trial and “advising them not to believe Murdaugh's testimony and other evidence presented by the defense, pressuring them to reach a quick guilty verdict, and even misrepresenting critical and material information to the trial judge in her campaign to remove a juror she believed to be favorable to the defense," according to a motion for a new trial filed by Murdaugh’s defense attorneys Richard Harpootlian and James Griffin, which was previously reviewed by PEOPLE.

His attorneys also alleged that Hill repeatedly referenced Murdaugh to the jury in ways that made him appear guilty.

<p>Tracy Glantz/The State via AP</p>

Tracy Glantz/The State via AP

"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," the attorneys claimed. "Ms. Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame."

Last March, Murdaugh was found guilty of the 2021 murders of his wife, Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, and youngest son, Paul Murdaugh, 22. Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before delivering the guilty verdicts.

During Monday's hearing, one juror — identified only as Juror Z — testified that comments from Hill “made it seem like he was already guilty" during a live-stream of the hearing. The other 11 jurors denied that Hill influenced their guilty verdict.

<p>Maggie Murdaugh/ Facebook</p> Maggie Murdaugh, left, and Paul Murdaugh

Maggie Murdaugh/ Facebook

Maggie Murdaugh, left, and Paul Murdaugh

In her ruling Monday, Judge Jean Toal said Murdaugh's defense needed to show Hill influenced the jury with an improper comment. While she found Hill was "not completely credible as a witness" and was lured by celebrity, Toal found the jurors were not influenced by her comment.

"I simply do not believe that our South Carolina Supreme Court requires a new trial in a very lengthy trial on the strength of some fleeting and foolish comments by a publicity-seeking clerk of court," Toal said.

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After the double murder conviction in March, Murdaugh was sentenced to two life sentences in prison. In November, the disgraced lawyer pleaded guilty to 22 financial crimes, including wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and more, the South Carolina Attorney General's office previously confirmed to PEOPLE.

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