Son of court clerk at centre of Alex Murdaugh’s bid for new trial arrested

Colleton County court clerk Becky Hill, who has since been accused of jury tampering by the convicted killer’s legal team, has reportedly had her cellphone seized as part of the criminal investigation into her son

Rachel Sharp
Wednesday 22 November 2023 17:29 GMT
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Louise Thomas

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In what marks the latest twist in the sprawling Alex Murdaugh saga, the son of the court clerk at the centre of his bid for a new murder trial has now been arrested on wiretapping charges.

Jeffrey Colton “Colt” Hill, 34, was arrested on Tuesday on a felony warrant following allegations that he illegally recorded conversations during his work for Colleton County, according to FITS News.

Mr Hill, who works in the county administration’s technology department, was accused of recording conversations involving deputy county administrator Meagan Utsey.

The local outlet reported earlier this month that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) had launched an investigation into the claims.

Weeks later, Colleton County inmate records seen by The Independent revealed that Mr Hill was taken into custody on Tuesday on a wiretapping charge. He is now being held in the county detention centre on $20,000 recognizance bond.

Mr Hill works as the technology director for Colleton County – the same administration where his mother Becky Hill is employed as the court clerk.

It is unclear if there is any link between the arrest of Mr Hill and his mother – or the high-profile Murdaugh case.

However, Ms Utsey worked as a liaison between Colleton County and Colleton County court during the disgraced legal scion’s trial.

Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill listens as Prosecutor Creighton Waters makes closing arguments in Murdaugh’s trial
Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill listens as Prosecutor Creighton Waters makes closing arguments in Murdaugh’s trial (AP)

Meanwhile, Mr Hill’s mother worked as the court clerk for the duration of the trial, even reading out the guilty verdict in court after jurors reached their unanimous verdict.

Ms Hill, who has since been accused of jury tampering by the convicted killer’s legal team, has had her cellphone seized under a search warrant as part of the criminal investigation into her son, FITS News reported.

The Independent has reached out to the court clerk’s office for comment.

Over the last two months, Ms Hill has been thrust into the spotlight after Murdaugh made a series of bombshell accusations about her conduct at his trial.

In September, Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a motion accusing Ms Hill of breaking her oath by tampering with the jury and pressuring them into returning a guilty verdict against him.

They claim that she advised the panel not to be “fooled by” Murdaugh’s testimony on the stand or “misled” by the defence’s evidence, pushed them to reach a quick guilty verdict and misrepresented “critical and material information to the trial judge in her campaign to remove a juror she believed to be favorable to the defense”.

Ms Hill has denied the allegations. In a sworn statement filed earlier this month, the state branded the allegations as “a sweeping conspiratorial theory” and said that “not every inappropriate comment made by a member of court staff to a juror rises to the level of constitutional error”.

Jeffrey Hill was arrested on Tuesday on a wiretapping charge
Jeffrey Hill was arrested on Tuesday on a wiretapping charge (Colleton County Inmate Records)

Based on the claims, Murdaugh’s legal team has demanded that the disbarred attorney be granted a new murder trial as he continues to proclaim his innocence of any involvement in the June 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

The legal team also called for the removal of Judge Clifton Newman from the case.

Last week, Judge Newman announced that he would stand down from any future proceedings in the murders case – but would continue to preside over his state financial fraud case.

One day later, Murdaugh accepted a plea deal in the financial crimes case – admitting to swindling millions of dollars from desperate law firm clients in a scheme that came crashing down around him in the wake of the murders.

In total, Murdaugh was facing 101 state charges over his vast multi-million-dollar fraud scheme as well as over a bizarre botched hitman plot where he claims he asked Curtis Eddie Smith – his alleged accomplice, distant cousin and drug dealer – to shoot him in the head so that his surviving son could get a $10m life insurance windfall.

According to prosecutors, Murdaugh worked with co-conspirators and friends ex-attorney Cory Fleming and ex-Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte to swindle clients out of millions of dollars.

Alex Murdaugh appears in court in November where he reached a plea deal on his state financial crimes
Alex Murdaugh appears in court in November where he reached a plea deal on his state financial crimes (AP)

Among the victims was the family of Murdaugh’s dead housekeeper Gloria Satterfield – who died in a mystery trip and fall at the family estate in 2018.

Murdaugh allegedly stole more than $4m in a wrongful death suit payout from the family.

In September, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to 22 federal financial charges over the financial fraud scheme including wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.

He faced up to 30 years in federal prison on some of the charges which came under the agreement that the sentence would be served concurrently with any state conviction on the same charges.

Murdaugh will be sentenced at the end of the month on the state financial fraud charges.

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