Alex Murdaugh today broke down in court as a crime scene expert described in grisly detail how shots fired at close range tore through his wife and son’s bodies.
Kenneth Kinsey, an Orangeburg County sheriff’s deputy, described how Paul, 22, was killed with two shotgun discharges and Maggie, 52, was wounded five times with a high-powered rifle.
Murdaugh is accused of shooting the pair at the kennels of the family’s 1,800-acre hunting estate at Moselle in South Carolina’s Lowcountry on June 7, 2021. He denies the killings and his defense claims more than one shooter was at work.
The disgraced legal scion, 54, hunched over and sobbed at the defense table as Kinsey told how Paul’s brains were spattered up the top of the door of the feed room at the kennels.
The expert testified that Maggie would ‘have been in pain’ and doubled over on her hands and knees after suffering three wounds to her abdomen, wrist and thigh. She was then shot twice in the head, the final round while she lay flat on the ground.
Alex Murdaugh, 54, hunched over and sobbed at the defense table as Kinsey told how Paul’s brains were spattered up the top of the door of the feed room at the kennels
Alex Murdaugh (center rear) is pictured with his sons Paul (left) and Buster (right), his wife Maggie (front right) and her mother Kennedy and father Terry
Kenneth Kinsey, left, and defense attorney Dick Harpootlian estimate the distance of a shotgun in Paul Murdaugh’s murder during the double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday
Prosecutors expect to rest their case this week after laying out evidence from dozens of witnesses which they say proves Murdaugh was at the kennels when they murders took place – despite his claim he only arrived there after they were killed.
The State argues that Murdaugh killed the pair to distract from a decade of malfeasance at his law firm during which he embezzled some $10million.
On the day of the killings Murdaugh had been confronted over $792,000 he had stolen from the firm.
Later that week he was due in court for hearing to disclose his finances as he was being sued for a fatal boat crash in which his drunk son was behind the wheel.
Murdaugh was claiming he was broke and that the family had no money for the family of 19-year-old Mallory Beach who was killed in the wreck in February, 2019.
Laying out the gruesome evidence of the shootings, Kinsey painted a distressing picture to jurors, at times using a yard stick to demonstrate on prosecutor Creighton Waters the direction the bullets and shot pellets hit Maggie and Paul respectively.
Kinsey told how Maggie would ‘have been in pain’ after being struck by at least two rifle rounds, with puncture wounds to her abdomen, leg and arm. He was unable to say whether she was hit by three rounds, as the shot to her abdomen may have first passed through her arm if she was holding it across her torso.
He told the court: ‘At bare minimum she would’ve bent over, she would have been in pain. I believe at some time in close proximity she fell to the ground. And that’s when the first fatal wound was delivered.’
‘She would have been on her knees and had at least one hand on the ground,’ he added.
Kinsey demonstrated on the prosecutor who got down on his hands and knees on the courtroom floor in front of the jury.
Standing approximately two yards behind Waters, he showed with the yard stick how the first fatal shot entered Maggie’s left breast, passing up her chest and puncturing her brain as she was kneeling on the ground.
Maggie then lay flat on her face. The second fatal shot was fired from the other direction, not from behind her legs but facing toward the top of Maggie’s head.
Crime scene specialist Kenneth Kinsey, right, shows how Paul Murdaugh was killed by a shotgun
A hole left by the shotgun used on Paul
Kinsey told how Paul’s brains were spattered up the top of the door of the feed room at the kennels
Blood spatters on the feed room floor where Paul was shot at the kennels on the estate
The first shot struck Paul while he was standing sideways about 5ft inside the 10ft-long feed room of the kennels with his right shoulder facing the door. A hole from the shot is seen in the back window
Blood spatters from Paul also covered cleaning supplies and canine medication on a shelf of the feed room
It was slightly further back from the first shot but still yards away.
The bullet entered the crown of her head making a ‘key-hole’ puncture.
Kinsey said the second shot would have been fatal had Maggie been alive but in his opinion she was no longer moving.
Describing Paul’s injuries, who the State says was killed after Maggie, Kinsey said the 22-year-old was shot in the chest first.
The buckshot struck him while he was standing sideways about 5ft inside the 10ft-long feed room of the kennels with his right shoulder facing the door.
The pellets went into his chest and exited under his left armpit, with most exiting and blowing out the glass in the window at the back of the room.
Blood drops flowed straight down indicating he was standing as he staggered toward the door.
Kinsey used a yard stick to demonstrate to jurors the angle of the shots
Kinsey demonstrates how the shooter killed Maggie Murdaugh
Paul, Maggie and Buster Murdaugh in a vacation photo from the mother’s Facebook page
The position of the shell casing on the floor of the feed room indicated to Kinsey that most of the gun was inside the feed room when the shot was fired – at extremely close range.
The second shot to Paul’s brain was immediately fatal and he ceased all voluntary movement, Kinsey said.
Pellet patterns and brain matter spattered across the top of the door indicated the shooter was standing outside the feed room and the barrel of the gun was pointing upwards at Paul from waist-high or lower.
He said that based on the direction of the impact and the lack of a ‘contact’ wound (burning of the skin) meant it was impossible Paul shot himself.
No murder weapon has ever been recovered but the State argues ‘family weapons’ were used.
Only one .300 Blackout rifle (held by SLED agent Jeff Croft earlier in the trial) was recovered from the estate and that rifle has been ruled out as the murder weapon. The other two .300 Blackout rifles which were at the property at some point have never been recovered
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 bought three .300 Blackout rifles for his sons, two as Christmas presents in 2016 and a third after Paul lost his a couple of years later.
Only one .300 Blackout rifle was recovered from the estate and that rifle has been ruled out as the murder weapon. The other two weapons have never been recovered.
Unlike a rifle, a shotgun does not provide the same evidentiary clues and the 12-gauge shotguns recovered from the property were inconclusive. The available evidence does not exclude that one of these guns was used to kill Paul.
Prosecutors are anticipated to rest their case on Friday and then the defense will start calling their witnesses.
Murdaugh’s sole surviving son Buster, his brothers John Marvin and Randy, and his sister Lynn have attended court most days. They are listed as defense witnesses.
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.
At 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’s phone locked and went silent forever, never to send another text or make another call.
Between 9pm and 9.30pm, Paul and Maggie were killed – according to the coroner.
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.