Hello and Happy Holidays! I’m Beth Braden, researcher and journalist for Luna Shark Media and the True Sunlight Podcast. Welcome to the monthly recap for November 2023. From Mandy’s book release to Bowen Turner’s release from prison to Alex Murdaugh’s plea in the financial crimes, we have lots to review. 

First up, accused rapist Bowen Turner was released from prison on November 15 as the Judicial Merit Selection Committee considered whether or not David Miller, the second circuit solicitor who cut Turner a sweetheart deal after he was charged with sexual assault, is fit to be a judge. It was Miller who approved Turner’s sentence of probation following his arrest for the rape of three young women. The only reason Turner was even in prison to begin with was because he violated the terms of his probation.

You can hear more about Turner’s release in Cup of Justice Podcast Episode 54 and True Sunlight Episode 25.

Mandy Matney  We have to talk about the Bowen Turner case. And David Miller, the prosecutor who let Bowen Turner get the sweetheart deal of a lifetime and agree to with State Senator Brad Hutto that Dallas is charges were dropped the case in Dallas Stoller’s case were dropped. Because she was dead. David Miller is now up for judgeship in South Carolina. And on Wednesday, David Miller is supposed to have a hearing. Eric, do you know how that process goes?

Eric Bland  It’s to determine whether he is qualified.

Liz Farrell Essentially they’re contesting, they’re contesting whether he’s qualified. He’s already been qualified hasn’t he?

Eric Bland Yeah. And, you know, it’s going to be iffy.

Cup of Justice, Episode 54

Alex Murdaugh’s legal chicanery somehow reached a new level in November as we learned more about the jury tampering allegations. Namely, Eric Bland reminded Mandy and Liz of Dick Harpootlian’s strategy of telling people fact A and fact C to lead them to imagine fact B. 

Listen to Liz and Mandy unravel Dick’s strategy and hear more about the state’s fiery response to the jury tampering allegations in True Sunlight Episode 24 and Cup of Justice Episode 55

Mandy Matney Oh my god, they ruined this woman based off of nothing, nothing. If this could happen to Becky Hill, they’ll do this to anyone. And that just took my breath away.

Eric Bland Do you think Dick’s ever going to say I’m sorry, Becky? I really, you know, maybe I reached too far. And you know, I my vitriol was a little too strong. I’m sorry. I tarnished your reputation. That’s why I said Dick better hit the head on this one. Because if he doesn’t, she’s got the best defamation case I’ve ever seen. Because when he’s talking in front of the microphone in front of the statehouse, he is not cloaked with immunity from defamation. End of story and I’ll take that case if you’re listening Becky.

Mandy Matney I would love to see it.

Cup of Justice, Episode 55

November also brought a bombshell hearing in front of a committee of legislators tasked with examining the judicial selection and retention process in South Carolina. On November 14, first circuit solicitor David Pascoe testified in front of the committee and came with receipts of how lawyer-legislators game the system in favor of their clients while judges have little recourse because the same lawyer-legislators who appear before in their courtrooms will be the same lawyer-legislators who must approve their seat on the bench. Hear from Pascoe himself in True Sunlight Episode 25.

So take it from me when I tell you this, someone who’s appeared before maybe about 100 different judges, we have good judges in the state of South Carolina, some phenomenal public servants. You heard from a good one last week in Justice Kittredge. And I hope I’m not screwing up his vote in the next couple of months but you heard from a great one in Justice Kittredge. Like any profession, we have some good judges, we have some bad ones. But the good far outweighs the bad. So I’m not here to bash the judiciary. I’m here asking to provide them a system where they don’t have to look over their shoulders every time they make a decision to make sure that they’re not offending a lawyer-legislator or a member of the JMSC.

David Pascoe – True Sunlight, Episode 25

As if November wasn’t busy enough, a motions hearing for Alex Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes turned into a plea deal in Beaufort County on Nov. 17.  Alex agreed to plead guilty to 22 white-collar crimes including charges for breach of trust, money laundering, computer crimes and tax evasion. The plea agreement came with a negotiated sentence of 27 years. 

There is also something strange brewing in Colleton County. On November 21, just two days before Thanksgiving, the former Colleton County IT director Jeffrey Colt Hill was arrested and charged with a single count of wiretapping stemming from an alleged July 20, 2023 incident where he reportedly recorded a phone call between two people. Hill, is the son of Colleton County Clerk of Court Becky Hill. 

Liz and Mandy discuss all that and more in True Sunlight Episode 26

Our Soak up the Sun Premium Members were treated to a number of exclusive streaming and in-person events as we celebrated the release of Mandy’s book, Blood on their Hands. We also had lots of bonus content this month, including a conversation between Mandy and comedienne Kathleen Madigan and a live Youtube chat between Mandy and filmmaker Erin Lee Carr. 

There are more book events planned for December and January. You can find the full list at lunasharkmedia.com/evetns to get details on how to stream or even how to attend in person. 

In addition to streaming events, our Soak up the Sun members have access to premium content  that supplements each chapter of Blood on their Hands including photos, guides on how to start your own investigations, and behind-the-scenes thoughts from Mandy’s co-author Carolyn Murnick. 

If you want access to those interviews and all the happy hours we have scheduled, upgrade your membership by visiting: /lunashark.supercast.com/subscriber

If you want access to those interviews and all the happy hours we have scheduled, premium news articles and much more – sign up to be a Lunashark Premium member at lunashark.supercast.com

As always, we thank you for your support of our mission as we work to get the story straight and follow the truth wherever it leads. We wish you all a happy holiday season. 

Stay tuned, stay pesky, and stay in the sunlight. 

Contact Beth Braden

Beth Braden

Beth Braden is an award-winning journalist whose mastery of the deep dive is evident in her work.

In addition to Braden’s experience writing about local government, crime and courts, and engaging features from her home state of Tennessee, her byline appears on several internationally-known websites. She is passionate about communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand manner and loves to pore over public records.

Braden joined Luna Shark Media in 2023 armed with a love of truth as she seeks out data from the darkest places, drags it into the light, and provides illuminating analysis. In her spare time, she enjoys quilting, strange museums, and good cups of coffee.