Missing rifle Alex Murdaugh bought for his son Paul could be MURDER WEAPON
A missing rifle Alex Murdaugh bought for his son Paul could be the murder weapon as an expert told jurors that markings on ammo used to kill Maggie are identical to those on other shells found at the family’s hunting lodge.
Paul Greer, a weapons expert for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), told jurors Friday that .300 Blackout casings discovered near Maggie’s body came from the same firearm as shells found outside the gunroom at the house, in a field and at the shooting range.
Prosecutors say Murdaugh killed Paul, 22, and Maggie, 52, at the kennels of the family’s estate in South Carolina’s Lowcountry on the night of June 7, 2021.
Paul was shot twice with a shotgun, while Maggie was shot five times with an assault rifle loaded with .300 Blackout.
Neither murder weapon has ever been identified. However, jurors have heard about two .300 Blackout rifles owned by the Murdaughs that are unaccounted for.
Murdaugh bought two .300 Blackout rifles (pictured) as Christmas presents for his sons Buster and Paul in 2016. Paul lost his gun and a replacement rifle, a third .300 Blackout, was bought in April 2018. Neither the lost gun or its replacement have ever been accounted for
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh (left) were murdered in June 2021. Alex denies the killings. Their oldest son, Buster, is shown, right
Greer said the shells found around Maggie and elsewhere on the estate had been ‘loaded into, extracted and ejected from the same firearm at some previous time.’
The defense attacked Greer’s evidence, arguing it was impossible to know if the casings had been shot from the same weapon without ever having recovered it.
Defense attorney Jim Griffin asserted that two different .300 Blackout rifles could leave the same markings on a shell casing.
Griffin grilled Greer on whether every single Blackout rifle in the world leaves its own signature tool mark on the shell casing it ejects.
The weapons expert did not answer directly, saying, ‘It’s hard to say,’ but he stood by his conclusions.
When pressed for an answer he said he could not give a yes or no because he had not seen every .300 Blackout in the world.
He also admitted that firing pin marks on the shells were inconclusive, but breech, extractor and ejector marks all matched.
The expert also testified about the two shotgun shells recovered from the feed room where Paul was killed. He said these were fired from the same shotgun.
Murdaugh was holding a Benelli 12 gauge shotgun when cops arrived on the night of the murders – he said to protect himself in case the shooters were still nearby.
Greer said the shells loaded into that weapon were consistent ‘in construction and head stamp information’ with the spent shells found near Paul.
But Greer’s findings were inconclusive as to whether this gun or another similar weapon fired the shells.
Jurors heard earlier this week that Murdaugh bought two .300 Blackout rifles as Christmas presents for his two sons Buster and Paul in 2016. Paul lost his gun and a replacement rifle, a third .300 Blackout, was bought in April 2018.
Murdaugh’s firearms dealer cousin John Bedingfield said Murdaugh paid $9,188 for the two original .300 Blackout rifles. They were each equipped with a thermal scope and a suppressor.
The replacement rifle bought two years later cost set him back $875, because it was not equipped with the same attachments.
It was Paul’s mother Maggie who picked up the guns when they were ready.
SLED agent Jeff Croft holds the only .300 Blackout rifle recovered from the Murdaugh estate – two others remain unaccounted for
MURDAUGH GUN CABINET: During his interview with cops, Murdaugh said that there were probably 25 guns on the estate. He said that in addition to the camo shotgun officers took off him when they arrived there were ‘all kinds of rifles.’ He added: ‘I mean you name ’em, we have ’em’
Murdaugh told cops that Paul had a tendency to have his belongings ‘strung out’ everywhere, including guns.
‘He would leave anything anywhere, and it was not unusual for there to be guns out there,’ he told detectives on June 10, 2021 – three days after the murders.
On the night of the killings Maggie was found face down after being shot five times, according to a report by forensics expert Kenneth Kinsey.
He suggested three of the shots hit her while she was standing.
Two of the shots would have been instantly fatal, piercing her brain. One of those shots passed through her left breast, the other was fired into the back of her head.
One of those bullets hit her while she was ‘holding herself up on her knees and … her right hand with her shoulders and head down.’
Paul was also found face down. He was first hit in the chest from ‘several feet away’, leaving him standing and heading for a door, before a second shot in the neck and shoulder blew out his brain.
‘Brain was severed and exited through the anatomical right side of (his) head. … Brain was completely detached from (his) head,’ Kinsey said.
Prosecutors are still laying out their case, which includes a video they say puts Murdaugh at the scene of the crime moments before the pair were shot dead.
He denies the murders, and says he was visiting his elderly mother at the time of the killings.
Earlier this week, jurors were shown video taken by Paul at the kennels at 8.44pm in which two witnesses told jurors they can hear the voice of Alex and Maggie.
All activity on Maggie and Paul’s cell phones stopped suddenly at 8.49pm – this is when the prosecution say they were killed.
WHERE MAGGIE DIED: A pool of blood is seen outside the kennels near the doghouse where Maggie Murdaugh was shot dead with two AR bullets to the head
WHERE PAUL DIED: Blood spatters on the floor inside the storage room at the kennels where Paul Murdaugh was shot dead. He was killed with a shot to the chest and a second to the head. Two shotgun shells were recovered by cops – two 12-gauge shells, two different brands – one Federal, the other Winchester
MURDER SCENE: Paul’s body lies outside the storage room, while Maggie lies just outside the kennels by the doghouse
Murdaugh claims that the last time he saw his wife and son was when they had supper together around 8.15pm.
He said he fell asleep in front of the TV while Maggie and Paul went down to the kennels.
The alleged killer said he tried calling Maggie before going to visit his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Call logs show Murdaugh tried ringing Maggie three times between 9.04pm and 9.06pm. She did not pick up.
He fired up his Chevrolet Suburban at 9.06pm and he texted Maggie that he would be right back and was going to check on his mother, who lives around 15 minutes away.
Murdaugh called his wife twice more – apparently on his way back home – at 9.45pm and 10.03pm. She did not answer.
Waters told jurors last week, it is ‘up to you to decide whether he’s trying to create an alibi.’
Murdaugh claims that when he arrived back at the house, he found Maggie and Paul lying dead at the kennels. He called 911 at 10.07pm.
TIMELINE: NIGHT OF THE KILLINGS
Alex Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Maggie, 52, and younger son Paul, 22, at the family’s hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina, on the night of June 7, 2021.
Here are the key events in the timeline laid out by prosecutors:
At 7.56pm, Paul sent a Snapchat video to friends showing the 22-year-old riding around the estate with his father.
Around 8.15pm, Murdaugh’s wife Maggie arrived home and the trio ate dinner together. Autopsies showed similar stomach contents in Maggie and Paul.
About 8.30pm, Paul’s phone starts moving towards the kennels.
Then at 8.44pm, a second video taken by Paul at the kennels – soon to become a murder scene – allegedly proves that Maggie, Paul and Alex were together.
At 8.49pm the prosecution say Paul and Maggie’s phones lock and go silent forever, never to send another text or make another call.
The prosecution say the pair were killed shortly after.
At 9.06pm, Murdaugh’s car is fired up.
The alleged killer said he went to go visit his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, in Almeda – around a 15-minute drive.
At 10.07pm, Murdaugh called 911 claiming he had arrived home a to find his wife and son shot dead.