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Court clerk accused of jury tampering in Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial has resigned

By Dakin Andone, CNN

(CNN) — The clerk of court accused of jury tampering in Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial resigned Monday, almost two months after a judge questioned the Colleton County, South Carolina, official’s credibility but ruled the allegations were not enough to grant Murdaugh a new trial.

Rebecca “Becky” Hill will not run for reelection, she said at a news conference, adding she was proud of her work in office the last four years, including managing “one of the biggest trials in South Carolina history.”

The trial, which saw Murdaugh convicted last year for the murders of his wife and 22-year-old son and sentenced to life in prison, “caused me to reflect upon decisions involving my stay in the office of the clerk of court,” Hill said.

“As we fix our eyes forward, I would like to announce also that my resignation as clerk of court will be effective immediately,” she said.

Hill’s resignation comes after South Carolina Judge Jean Toal in late January rejected a request for a new trial by Murdaugh and his attorneys, who accused Hill of inappropriately discussing the case with jurors. The clerk strongly denied those allegations.

The judge ultimately found jurors had not been influenced by comments Hill made in their presence. But she was sharply critical of Hill – who co-authored a book published several months after the trial – calling her a “publicity-influenced” clerk who was “attracted by the siren call of celebrity.”

Neither Hill nor her attorney, Justin Bamberg, addressed Toal’s ruling in Monday’s news conference – though Bamberg told reporters Hill’s announcement was “not in response whatsoever to anything going on with any investigation or anything of that nature.”

Hill as recently as January was the subject of two open investigations, a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division spokesperson confirmed then to CNN: one “regarding her alleged interactions with the jury” in Murdaugh’s murder trial and the other “regarding allegations she used her elected position for personal gain.”

The Murdaugh case brought international attention – books, documentaries and podcasts have been made about it – to the former personal injury attorney whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather served as prosecutors for part of southern South Carolina from 1920 to 2006.

By extension, it also brought notoriety to the South Carolina Lowcountry, its residents and those who played a role in the high-profile trial, Hill among them: In addition to her book, she participated in a Netflix docuseries about the case.

In seeking a new trial, Murdaugh and his attorneys claimed Hill’s alleged tampering also included pressuring jurors to conclude deliberations quickly and misrepresenting information to the trial judge about a juror who was eventually dismissed. These alleged actions, Murdaugh’s team claimed, were aimed toward securing a “book deal and media appearances that would not happen in the event of a mistrial.”

The allegations were explored in a hearing at which Toal questioned each of the 12 jurors, several of whom indicated they’d heard Hill make comments. Only one said it influenced her verdict, though she also stood by an affidavit in which she said she felt pressured by the other jurors.

During her own testimony, Hill acknowledged a “fleeting thought” prior to the trial about writing a book but said she hadn’t taken any steps toward doing so before or during the trial. In her ruling, Toal found Hill had told another clerk of court and others she desired “a guilty verdict because it would sell books.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Dianne Gallagher and Maxime Tamsett contributed to this report.

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