Hearing closed, record sealed in appeal of murder conviction
SOUTH CAROLINA– A Columbia circuit court judge closed the courtroom and sealed the file in a murder conviction appeal case in mid-January. The judge closed the appellate hearing for two days and would not release the transcripts of testimony he ruled inadmissible.
Two newspapers, The (Greenville) News and The (Anderson) Independent-Mail have asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to unseal the court file.
The defendant, William Bell, Jr., is appealing his conviction in the 1988 murder of a school principal.
According to the Associated Press, newspaper representatives said the sealed information testimony concerns allegations that a State Law Enforcement Division agent was involved in a romantic relationship with a member of the jury that convicted Bell. The agent also reportedly provided alcohol to the same juror. State Law Enforcement Division agents had been assigned to guard the jury during their sequestration. (South Carolina v. Bell; Media Counsel: Jay Bender, Columbia)