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.”