A missing rifle Alex Murdaugh bought for his son Paul could be the murder weapon, as an expert told jurors that the markings on the ammunition used to kill Maggie are identical to those on other grenades found in the hunting lodge of the family have been found.
Paul Greer, a weapons expert for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), told jurors Friday that .300 embezzlement shells discovered near Maggie’s body were fired from the same weapon as shells fired outside the armory at the home, in a field and at the shooting range.
Prosecutors say Murdaugh killed Paul, 22, and Maggie, 52, in the kennels of the family’s Lowcountry estate in South Carolina 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 remain unaccounted for.
Murdaugh bought two .300 Blackout rifles (pictured) in 2016 as a Christmas present for his sons Buster and Paul. Paul lost his pistol and a replacement rifle, a third .300 Blackout, was purchased in April 2018. ever paid
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh (left) were murdered in June 2021. Alex denies the murders. Their oldest son, Buster, is pictured at right
Greer said the grenades found around Maggie and elsewhere on the estate had been “loaded into the same firearm sometime before, taken out and ejected.”
The defense attacked Greer’s evidence, arguing that it was impossible to know if the shell casings were shot from the same gun without ever recovering it.
Defense attorney Jim Griffin claimed that two different .300 Blackout rifles could leave the same marks on a shell casing.
Griffin asked Greer if every Blackout rifle in the world leaves its own distinctive tool mark on the case it ejects.
The weapons expert didn’t answer right away, saying, “It’s hard to say,” but he stuck to his conclusions.
When asked for an answer, he said he couldn’t give a yes or no because he hadn’t seen every .300 Blackout in the world.
He also admitted that the firing pin markings on the grenades were inconclusive, but the breech, extractor, and ejector markings all matched.
The expert also testified about the two rifle grenades recovered in the feeding room where Paul was killed. He said these were fired from the same shotgun.
Murdaugh was holding a Benelli 12 gauge shotgun when police arrived on the night of the murders – saying he had to protect himself in case the gunmen were still around.
Greer said the grenades loaded in that weapon were consistent “in construction and head stamp information” with the spent grenades found near Paul.
But Greer’s findings were inconclusive as to whether this gun or another similar weapon fired the grenades.
Jurors learned earlier this week that Murdaugh bought two .300 Blackout rifles in 2016 as a Christmas present for his two sons, Buster and Paul. Paul lost his pistol and a replacement rifle, a third .300 Blackout, was purchased in April 2018.
John Bedingfield, cousin of Murdaugh’s firearms dealer, said Murdaugh paid $9,188 for the two original .300 Blackout rifles. They were each equipped with a thermal viewer and a suppressor.
The replacement rifle he bought two years later cost him $875, as it was not equipped with the same attachments.
It was Paul’s mother Maggie who took up the guns when they were done.
SLED agent Jeff Croft has the only .300 Blackout rifle recovered from the Murdaugh estate – two others are still missing
MURDAUGH GUNS CABINET: During his interview with police, Murdaugh said there were probably 25 guns on the estate. He said that in addition to the camo shotgun officers who mounted him when they arrived, there were “guns of all kinds.” He added: ‘I mean, name them, we got them’
Murdaugh told police that Paul had a tendency to “hang out” his belongings everywhere, including guns.
“He left everything everywhere, and it wasn’t unusual for there to be guns,” he told detectives on June 10, 2021 — three days after the murders.
On the night of the murders, Maggie was found face down after being shot five times, according to a report by forensic expert Kenneth Kinsey.
He suggested that three of the shots hit her while she was standing.
Two of the shots would have been instantly fatal and pierced her brain. One of those shots went through her left breast, the other was fired into the back of her head.
One of those bullets hit her while she “kept herself 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 “a few feet away,” causing him to stop and head for a door, before a second shot to 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 presenting their case, which includes a video they believe places Murdaugh at the crime scene just before the pair were shot dead.
He denies the murders and says he was visiting his elderly mother at the time of the murders.
Earlier this week, jurors were shown a video shot by Paul at the kennels at 8:44 p.m. in which two witnesses told jurors they could hear Alex and Maggie’s voices.
All activity on Maggie and Paul’s cell phones suddenly stopped at 8:49 p.m. – this is when the prosecution says they were murdered.
WHERE MAGGIE DIED: A pool of blood can be seen outside the kennels near the dog house where Maggie Murdaugh was shot dead with two AR rounds to the head
WHERE PAUL DIED: Blood splatter on the floor in the storage room at the kennels where Paul Murdaugh was shot. He was killed with a shot to the chest and a second to the head. Two shotgun shells were recovered by police – two 12-gauge shells, two different brands – one Federal, the other Winchester
MURDER SCENE: Paul’s body lies outside the storage area, while Maggie lies just outside the kennels near the dog house
Murdaugh claims the last time he saw his wife and son was when they had dinner together at around 8:15 p.m.
He said he fell asleep in front of the TV while Maggie and Paul went to the kennels.
The alleged killer said he tried to call Maggie before visiting his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Call logs show that Murdaugh attempted to call Maggie three times between 9:04 PM and 9:06 PM. She didn’t answer.
He started his Chevrolet Suburban at 9:06 p.m. and texted Maggie to say he’d be right back and check on his mom, who lives about 15 minutes away.
Murdaugh called his wife two more times—apparently on his way home—at 9:45 p.m. and 10:03 p.m. She didn’t answer.
Waters told jurors last week that it’s “up to you to decide if he’s trying to create an alibi.”
Murdaugh claims that when he got back to the house, he found Maggie and Paul dead in the kennels. He called 911 at 10:07 p.m.
TIMELINE: NIGHT OF THE MURDERS
Alex Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Maggie, 52, and youngest 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 drawn up by prosecutors:
At 7:56 PMPaul sent a Snapchat video to friends showing the 22-year-old driving around the estate with his father.
Around 8:15 PM, Murdaugh’s wife Maggie came home and the trio had dinner together. Autopsies showed similar stomach contents in Maggie and Paul.
Around 8:30 pmPaul’s phone begins to move towards the kennels.
Then at 8:44 pma second video shot by Paul in the kennels – soon to be a murder scene – allegedly proves that Maggie, Paul and Alex were together.
At 8:49 PM the prosecution says Paul and Maggie’s phones will be locked and silent forever, never to text or call again.
The prosecution says the couple was killed shortly afterwards.
At 9:06 PMMurdaugh’s car starts.
The alleged killer said he went to visit his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, in Almeda – about 15 minutes away.
At 10:07 PMMurdaugh called 911 and claimed he came home to find his wife and son shot dead.