Alex Murdaugh Clerk of Court Becky Hill charged with ethics violations

Posted at 12:56 PM, May 30, 2024 and last updated 10:56 AM, June 3, 2024

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Court TV) — Becky Hill, the Clerk of Court who served during Alex Murdaugh‘s murder trial and was accused of communicating improperly with the jury, has been summoned to appear at a hearing to answer charges from the State Ethics Commission.

Becky Hill testifies in court

Becky Hill, the Colleton County Clerk of Court, testified at an evidentiary hearing on Jan. 29, 2024. (Court TV)

Hill was thrust into the national spotlight, first during the historic trial for the former attorney convicted of murdering his wife and son, and then again when Murdaugh’s attorneys filed an appeal accusing her of making inappropriate comments to the jury. The motion was denied after an evidentiary hearing at which Hill testified.

While the judge found that Hill’s comments didn’t rise to the level of meriting a new trial, two other allegations of ethical wrongdoing have led the State Ethics Commission to formally file 76 charges of ethics violations against her.

WATCH | Becky Hill’s Full Testimony at Evidentiary Hearing

Court TV reviewed the complaints submitted to the ethics commission, which accused Hill of using her position and authority as Colleton County Clerk of Courts to promote her book, give unauthorized people access to secure areas, and misappropriate thousands of dollars.

Alex Murdaugh lays in a holding cell with a book

Alex Murdaugh can be seen in a photo with a book in a holding cell at the Colleton County Courthouse. (State Ethics Commission Documents)

A photograph of Alex Murdaugh reading a book in the courthouse holding cell, allegedly taken moments before the jury returned its verdict, was allegedly taken from a secure feed the public and media have no access to. The photo was shared online by photographer Melissa Gordon, who was later hired to work on Hill’s book, which was co-written by her husband, Neil Gordon.

According to one complaint, Hill was also earning extra money by offering people tours of the courthouse and even allowing them to take photos sitting inside the same cell.

In a statement to Court TV Neil said, “My wife Melissa and I spoke to ethics commission investigators for several hours about our business relationship with Becky. They were very interested in the picture she texted us of Alex Murdaugh in his jail cell. … Melissa and I both signed affidavits that we received the photo from Becky Hill, but she did not instruct us to place the photo on social media or in [the book].”

A second complaint, filed by Laura Hayes, a former deputy clerk in Colleton County, accused Hill of taking thousands of dollars in bonuses illegally. Hayes wrote in her complaint, “I asked her one time if it was ethical for her to write herself a bonus check and she said it’s federal money right and I said I didn’t want her to go to jail for unethical behavior and she said she heard federal prison is pretty comfy.”

READ MORE | Becky Hill resigns ‘not related’ to Alex Murdaugh trial ethics investigation

screenshot of a text conversation

A screenshot of a text message conversation purported to be with Becky Hill. (State Ethics Commission Documents)

Ethics investigators say Hill gave herself $9,880 in bonuses from an account meant for employees who work on child support cases. Hayes said that Hill gave false information to the finance department for multiple employees about how much they worked on child support for the bonuses. Hill is also accused of improperly reimbursing herself thousands of dollars for gifts and lunches for courthouse staff, listed as things like “Easter goodies,” “Mother’s Day gifts” and a birthday party where the supplies included Smirnoff Ice.

The ethics commission is holding a hearing on the allegations against Hill on Dec. 19 at their offices in Columbia.