Facebook Post From Tim Stone Is Weirdest Twist in Alex Murdaugh Case

03:46 18.09.2023 - The Daily Beast, Pilar Melendez

A Georgia man who blasted his wife's aunt on Facebook for "sticking her nose" in his business has improbably been dragged into the Alex Murdaugh murder saga because of an identity mix-up.

Earlier this month, Murdaugh's defense team filed a 65-page motion for a new trial, arguing that Colleton County court clerk Rebecca Hill pressured the jury to convict the disgraced ex-lawyer accused of killing his wife and son.

The defense also claimed that Hill campaigned to remove a particular juror from the trial because she believed the juror was on the fence about a conviction. The motion claimed Hill flagged for the judge a Facebook post by the ex-husband of that juror-on the "Walterboro Word of Mouth" page-that supposedly showed she had spoken about the case. Judge Clifton Newman removed the juror for having "improper conversations" outside court.

In a Monday filing, Murdaugh's legal team said there was a post-but it was written by a man with a similar name to the juror's ex and had nothing to do with the Murdaugh case. They included an affidavit from the poster, identified as Tim Stone, of Odum, Georgia.

"Mr. Stone was the author of the 'apology' Facebook post??¦which Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill represented was evidence Juror #785 had discussed the evidence presented at trial with her ex-husband before deliberations began," the filing states.

Stone said in his affidavit that he was never married to the juror and has never posted on "Walterboro Word of Mouth." He said the post that Hill apparently saw was actually in response to a private argument about his wife's aunt, who was "sticking her nose in my business."

He deleted the original post and issued an apology post the next day, explaining to his 128 followers that he let Satan control him and that he wrote the first message while intoxicated.

"I felt terrible about the initial post and removed it on February 15 and on February 16 posted an apology which is still on my Facebook feed," Stone's affidavit states. "It appears that the post on my personal Facebook page differs slightly from that on Exhibit A in that my wife's comments??¦have been deleted."

Hill's legal team did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the clerk of court previously denied the allegations to The Daily Beast.

On Friday, the South Carolina Attorney General's Office responded to the motion's allegations, saying its investigators found "significant factual disputes" with the defense's claims. In their reply, prosecutors asserted that a new trial cannot be requested while the conviction is being appealed. Still, the reply states that prosecutors asked the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to investigate the allegations against Hill and have yet to find any evidence to support the claims.

"Objective investigation by SLED remains ongoing, but the inquiry has already revealed significant factual disputes as to claims in [Murdaugh's] motion," the filing said. "If no credible evidence can be found to support the claims brought by [Murdaugh], the State will be prepared to argue against the motion."

/ Monday, September 18, 2023, 3:46 AM /

themes:  Facebook  Georgia  South Carolina

Alex Murdaugh's Wild Jury Tampering Claims Don't Add Up, Prosecutors Say

The South Carolina Attorney General's Office finally responded Friday to allegations that a court clerk tampered with the jury that convicted Alex Murdaugh of murder, saying state investigators have found "significant factual disputes" with the claims.

The response was filed just before the Friday deadline to respond to the motion for a new trial filed by Murdaugh's defense team on Sept. 5. In their searing 65-page motion, Murdaugh's attorneys accused Colleton clerk of court Rebecca Hill of advising the jury "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."

Friday's reply from the AG's office shot down Murdaugh's hopes, with prosecutors asserting that a fresh trial cannot be requested while the previous case is still on appeal, as Murdaugh's is. ..... 

In their Sept. 5 motion, Murdaugh's attorney wrote, "Ms. Hill had frequent private conversations with the jury foreperson, a Court-appointed substitution for the foreperson the jury elected for itself at the request of Ms. Hill."

"During the trial, Ms. Hill asked jurors for their opinions about Mr. Murdaugh's guilt or innocence," the motion continued. "Ms. Hill invented a story about a Facebook post to remove a juror she believed might not vote guilty. Ms. Hill pressured the jurors to reach a quick verdict, telling them from the outset of their deliberations that it 'shouldn't take them long.' 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. Ms. Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame."

Murdaugh's defense team also sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Adair Boroughs to request a federal investigation into whether Murdaugh's civil rights were violated during the trial.

In order to be considered for a new trial, prosecutors indicated Friday that Murdaugh's team would have to prove five things: That the evidence they bring forward would probably change the results of a new trial; that the evidence was learned since the trial ended; that the evidence couldn't have been easily missed during trial; that the evidence is "material to the issue" of guilt or innocence; and that the evidence is not "merely cumulative or impeaching."

Proving each of those points could prove to be a challenge for Murdaugh's team. Prosecutors claimed in their Friday filing that defense lawyers told reporters in a press conference on Sept. 5 that they spotted jury tampering in real time during the trial-a fact that would disqualify them from being granted a new one.

At the end of the six-week trial, jurors took just three hours to convict Murdaugh, who is now facing two life sentences for killing his wife and son. He is also separately facing about 100 state and federal charges for a litany of other crimes. He is set to plead guilty to federal fraud crimes next week and will face his first white-collar crime trial in November.

Hill, who is an elected state official, previously denied tampering allegations to The Daily Beast, calling them "totally not true." "This is crazy," she added.

In their motion, defense lawyers detailed several allegations of jury tampering, accusing Hill of talking to the jury foreman in private and making statements about the case during the latter half of the trial. Hill also allegedly warned jurors not to "be fooled" by Murdaugh before he testified in his own defense, the motion claimed.

"Y'all are going to hear things that will throw you all off. Don't let this distract you or mislead you," Hill told the jury, according to the motion.

In another example, the motion alleged that Hill invented a Facebook post from the ex-husband of a juror who seemed to be on the fence about Murdaugh's guilt. Hill informed Judge Clifton Newman about the post, which ultimately led to the juror being removed from the trial. After the trial, the motion alleged, Hill traveled with several jurors to New York City to appear on the Today show.

"Mr. Murdaugh may be the most unpopular man in South Carolina right now," Murdaugh's defense attorneys said in the Boroughs letter. "He has become the symbol of the Lowcountry judicial corruption. Disgust at his frauds unfortunately has created in some minds a 'but not Alex Murdaugh' exception to the due process rights enjoyed by all Americans, regardless [of] guilt or innocence. Those minds may delight in the irony that he may very well be a victim of the corruption he symbolizes."

All rights to the materials belong to the sources indicated under the heading of each news and their authors.