Juror number 785 remains something of a mystery.
She has never gone public with her identity and never broken her silence by speaking to the press.
But, the mystery juror has caused quite a stir in the so-called “trial of the century”.
After sitting through six weeks of graphic testimony about the slayings of Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul, Judge Clifton Newman dismissed the juror for apparently speaking about the case to at least three people.
If her dismissal wasn’t enough to shock the nation glued to the notorious trial, the juror also gained infamy due to a comedic moment where she asked to retrieve a dozen eggs from the jury room.
After that, juror 785 earned a new alias as the “egg juror”.
Now, six months after the trial concluded with Murdaugh’s conviction, the mystery juror is back in the spotlight once again – this time finding herself at the very heart of the convicted killer’s bombshell bid for a new trial.
On Tuesday, Murdaugh’s attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin filed a motion requesting a new trial where they accused Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill of breaking her oath by pressuring the jury to return a guilty verdict.
In the motion, they claim that Ms Hill “tampered with the jury by advising them 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”.
Specifically, they claim that the clerk instructed jurors not to be “misled” by evidence presented by the defence and told jurors not to be “fooled by” Murdaugh’s testimony when he took the stand.
The motion also claims that Ms Hill had frequent private conversations with the jury foreperson and repeatedly asked jurors for their opinions about Murdaugh’s guilt or innocence.
It’s a flurry of bombshell allegations against the court officer which legal experts say could and should land Murdaugh with a new trial if found to be true.
And at the centre of these accusations lies juror number 785.
The most damning accusation in the motion claims that “Ms Hill invented a story about a Facebook post” in order to remove the juror who she believed might not vote guilty.
On 27 February – the day after Murdaugh testified – Ms Hill had gone to Judge Newman claiming that she had seen a post in the local Facebook group “Walterboro Word of Mouth” from juror 785’s former husband Tim Stone, the motion states.
The post purportedly claimed that the juror was drinking with her ex-husband and, when drunk, she expressed her views on whether Murdaugh was innocent or guilty.
A follow-up post from an account called Timothy Stone then apologised for the post saying that he was driven by “Satan”.
When Ms Hill confronted the juror about the posts, the juror said it wasn’t true and that she hadn’t seen her ex-husband in 10 years, the motion states.
But Ms Hill allegedly told the juror that SLED and Colleton County Sheriff’s Office personnel had gone to Mr Stone’s house and that he had confirmed he made the post.
She then allegedly asked juror 785 whether she was inclined to vote guilty or not guilty – to which she said she had not made up her mind.
Murdaugh’s attorneys claim that the original post was “fictitious” and that a download of Mr Stone’s Facebook shows he did not make either post.
On 2 March, after the prosecution’s closing argument the day before, juror 785 said that the court clerk asked her again about what her verdict would be.
When the juror said she thought prosecutor Creighton Waters’ closing statement was good but that she had questions because the murder weapons had never been found, Ms Hill allegedly told her “that everything Mr Murdaugh has said has been lies and that I should forget about the guns, they will never be seen again”.
The juror said that around 10 minutes later, she was called into the courtroom and dismissed from the jury.
Judge Newman told the juror she was being removed for discussing the case with at least three other people.
He said that he had received a complaint from a member of the public that she had discussed the case with multiple people not on the jury panel.
Following an investigation – which involved interviews with both the juror, who denied any wrongdoing, and the individuals she was accused of speaking to – Judge Newman said that it was determined that the woman had spoken to at least three people about the case and had also given her opinion about the evidence she had seen in the case.
Outside of the Facebook post and her ex-husband, the court had also been contacted by a co-worker of the juror’s tenant who said that the tenant said her landlord was a juror and had expressed an opinion about the case when delivering a fridge to the property.
After she was told she was being dismissed, the judge asked the juror if she had left anything in the jury room that needed to be collected.
At that moment, juror 785 sparked laughter when she replied: “A dozen eggs.”
It was a brief moment of humour which appeared to unite both the prosecution, the defence – and even Mr Murdaugh.
An alternate juror was sworn in and, just hours later, the newly-formed group of 12 reached a unanimous verdict finding Murdaugh guilty of all charges.
Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys demand new trial over allegations of jury tampering
Now, juror number 785’s sworn statement about the events forms a key part of the motion for a new trial. (Her former husband Tim Stone also gave a sworn statement to Murdaugh’s attorneys where he denied ever making the posts.)
Juror 785’s testimony appears to be the first time she has spoken out about her version of events of life as a juror on the high-profile six-week trial.
In the days after the trial, her attorney released a statement on her behalf saying it was “not her desire” to speak publicly about the case and asking for her to be left alone.
“While other jurors have chosen to comment, which is their prerogative, that is not her desire at this time,” her attorney Joe McCulloch said in a statement.
“Given her public service for the weeks of trial, she earned through her public service the right to have her wishes respected. She wishes you to know that she took the juror oath and all of the subsequent court’s instructions seriously and believes she followed them appropriately.”
The statement added that the juror “wishes freedom from contact and harassment” and asked that efforts to contact her at home and at her place of work “come to an end”.
Six months on, it remains to be seen whether she will finally go public.
The Independent has previously reported that the woman dubbed the “egg juror” was expected to be a holdout among jury members – something that could have led to a hung jury and a mistrial.
Now, based on the bombshell allegations about the circumstances that led jurors to convict Murdaugh, it seems her dismissal may well have had a far greater impact than even thought.
While the woman known only as juror 785 or the egg juror continues to be shrouded in mystery, it turns out she may well be the person to blow the whole case wide open again.
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