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The Independent

Alex Murdaugh’s cousin testifies against him at murder trial, revealing he spent over $9,000 on three guns

By Graeme Massie,


Alex Murdaugh ’s second cousin testified how he built “Blackout” rifles worth more than $9,000 for Paul and Buster Murdaugh to hunt hogs with on their South Carolina estate.

John Bedingfield, a state Department of Natural Resources agent, says that he built two .300 Blackout rifles for Alex Murdaugh at a cost of $9,188 as Christmas gifts for his sons in 2016.

Mr Bedingfield, who has a federal firearms licence, told the court that he also built a third, more basic rifle for Maggie Murdaugh in April 2018 for $875.

Prosecutors say that Maggie Murdaugh was murdered with a similar weapon, one of which was seized by investigators from the family’s estate.

Mr Bedingfield told the jury that he and Mr Murdaugh’s grandmothers were sisters and described the defendant’s relationship with his sons as a positive one.

“It was always good. When he called me he was excited about getting these (rifles) for his boys,” Mr Bedingfield testified.

Mr Bedingfield said he often sold .300 Blackout rifles to people in the area as they were used for hunting hogs.

Prosecutors have tried to tie the ammunition specifically to the Murdaugh family rifles, while his defence lawyers have claimed they are not as rare as suggested.

“They’re (hogs) a severe nuisance in this region,” Mr Bedingfield said and told defence lawyer Jim Griffin that he had sold a “lot” of the guns but could not give an exact number.

Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were shot dead at the dog kennels on the family’s sprawling 1,700-acre estate in Islandton on 7 June 2021.

Mr Murdaugh is now on trial for their murders and has pleaded not guilty to them.

Prosecutors have previously said that Paul was shot dead first at 8.50pm, with Maggie killed minutes later.

In court on Tuesday , jurors also learned that ammunition matching the fatal shot fired through Paul’s brain had been located on the Murdaugh family property.

Two separate guns were used to kill Maggie and Paul. They have never been found.

Paul was shot twice – once in the head and once in the chest – with a shotgun while Maggie was shot five times with a AR-15-style rifle, with some of the bullets striking her when she had already fallen to the ground.

During searches of the Murdaugh property, steel shot ammo – specifically Winchester DryLok – was located, jurors heard.

This was the same type of ammunition – typically used to hunt waterfowl – that Mr Murdaugh’s attorney Jim Griffin told the court “blew Paul’s head off”.

A .300 Blackout semiautomatic rifle, 12-gauge Browning shotgun, Benelli shotgun and 12-gauge pump shotgun which were seized from the family home were all brought into the courtroom and shown to jurors.

The agent testified that several empty boxes of ammunition were also found during searches of the Murdaugh home on 8 June and 13 June.

And Sellier & Bellot .300 AAC BLK rifle ammo was also found at the property – the same type of ammunition used to kill Maggie.

Also seized as evidence was a credit card receipt for an $1,021.10 item from Gucci. The item – which was not revealed in court – had been circled by someone, with the bizarre piece of evidence mentioned for a second time by the state on Tuesday.

During direct examination on Monday, Agent Croft had testified that he had gone to Mr Murdaugh’s brother’s home three days on from the murders on 10 June 2021 to carry out Mr Murdaugh’s second police interview.

In a bombshell moment, jurors heard audio where the defendant may have unwittingly slipped up and confessed to the murders of his wife and son.

“I did him so bad,” he appeared to say about his son.

Agent Croft was asked by prosecutor Creighton Waters to clarify what he heard Mr Murdaugh saying. “It’s just so bad. I did him so bad,” he responded.

The audio however raised doubts both in and out of the courtroom, being somewhat unclear as to whether Mr Murdaugh says “I” or “they”.

During cross-examination on Tuesday, Mr Griffin grilled Agent Croft as to why – if Mr Murdaugh’s statement raised alarm bells – he didn’t follow up on it.

The special agent testified that he “made a mental note” about Mr Murdaugh’s comment and said it “was something we were definitely going to follow up on”.

However, at that time he said it was early in the investigation when officials were in more of an “information gathering” stage.

The audio was played again in court – twice in real-time and once at one-third speed.

When asked by Mr Griffin if he heard “they” not “I” when the recording was slowed down, Agent Croft testified that he still heard “I”.

“I still test that with my hearing I hear ‘I’,” he said.

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