Another last-minute filing from attorneys for accused killer Alex Murdaugh – the man at the heart of the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – addresses firearm evidence believed to be central to the state’s case against the disbarred South Carolina lawyer, who stands accused of murdering his wife and son nineteen months ago.
A new motion – filed on the first day of the Palmetto State’s ‘Trial of the Century’ – asks S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman to exclude “or limit” the introduction of firearms identification evidence and the “purported expert testimony” of Paul S. Greer.
Greer is a forensic firearm expert and key witness for the prosecution in its case against Murdaugh.
Murdaugh’s attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin noted in their filing (.pdf) that Greer’s testimony should be excluded or limited because “his opinion testimony does not aid the trier of fact to understand the evidence.”
Specifically, they claimed ballistics evidence Greer might address would cause “unfair prejudice” to Murdaugh.
(Click to view)
The double homicide Murdaugh stands accused of committing lies at the very heart of this still-unfolding Southern Gothic drama. It chronicles the fall of the “House of Murdaugh” – a powerful legal dynasty which ran the Palmetto State’s Lowcountry like its own fiefdom for more than a century.
To recap: Sometime after 8:44 p.m. EDT on June 7, 2021, state prosecutors say Murdaugh savagely dispatched his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and their younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, near the dog kennels on the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property – known locally as Moselle.
Paul Murdaugh was hit by a pair of shotgun blasts on that fateful evening – one to the head, the other to the arm and chest. Maggie Murdaugh was killed by multiple rounds from a semi-automatic rifle around the same time her son was killed. At least two of Maggie Murdaugh’s gunshot wounds were inflicted as she was lying wounded on the ground – consistent with initial reports we received of “execution-style” slayings.
Maggie Murdaugh’s body was found approximately thirty yards from the dog kennels where her son was murdered. Also found at the crime scene? Five spent .300 blackout cartridges and other ballistics evidence.
This evidence was logged by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which along with the office of attorney general Alan Wilson is leading the double homicide inquiry and multiple other criminal investigations tied to Murdaugh.
Greer is expected to testify that the .300 blackout cartridges fired at the murder scene “came from the same weapon that fired .300 blackout cartridges at (a) shooting range and near the residence.”
In other words, the gun that killed Maggie Murdaugh in all likelihood belonged to someone who lived at Moselle.
For those of you unhip to rifle rounds,.300 blackout ammunition is preferable in some hunting and home defense situations to the AR-15’s typical chambering (5.56) because it offers increased power without the intense recoil and over-penetration associated with heavier rounds.
Greer is expected to further testify that “some of the .300 blackout cartridges retrieved from the firing range and near the residents “were fired and/or loaded into, extracted and ejected by the .300 blackout rifle taken from the property.”
Wait … taken from the property?
So … has the state found the weapons?
No. At least not according to any law enforcement sources I have spoken with …
(Not for lack of trying, though).
In fact, the motion from Murdaugh’s lawyers made a point to note that Greer was unable to conclude that “the .300 blackout cartridges found beside Maggie’s body were fired by the .300 blackout retrieved from the residence.”
(Click to view)
But Greer was able to conclude something significant … that .300 blackout cartridges found at the shooting range and near the residence were “loaded into, extracted and ejected from the same firearm at some previous time.”
In other words, while prosecutors may not have the murder weapons in hand – they can point to the next best thing: That those weapons allegedly belonged to the Murdaugh’s and were used on the Murdaugh’s property on previous occasions.
This would tie in nicely with the prosecution’s theory of the timeline of the murders – and how that timeline wrecked Murdaugh’s so-called “ironclad” alibi. It would also dovetail nicely into one of the key witnesses in the case, who is expected to testify they saw Murdaugh “hiding evidence” in the aftermath of the murders at his parents home in Almeda, S.C.
It could also point to a potential accomplice in the crimes … or perhaps an accessory after the fact.
Furthermore, the testimony Greer is expected to provide would severely undermine Murdaugh’s claim that the “real killers” of his wife and son were vigilantes looking to kill Paul as retribution for his involvement in a fatal 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach of Hampton, S.C.
Murdaugh’s trial kicked off in Walterboro, S.C. on Monday (January 23, 2023). The first day was dominated by jury selection, as Newman began whittling down a pool of approximately 900 potential jurors. Jury selection is expected to continue through Tuesday and the early part of Wednesday.
THE MOTION …
(Via: Colleton County Clerk of Court)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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