The 2015 death of Stephen Smith, whose body was discovered dumped in the middle of the road, is now being investigated as a homicide just weeks after disgraced lawyer Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of double murder, CNN reported Wednesday.
Authorities found the body of 19-year-old Smith on a Hampton County road on July 8 and authorities determined a hit-and-run occurred. A medical examiner’s report cited blunt head trauma as the cause of death, but attorney’s for Smith’s family have disputed the findings. A responding officer reported in the initial investigation there was “no vehicle debris, skid marks, or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle,” according to CNN.
Smith’s family reportedly said their son would never have been walking in the middle of the road.
Stephen Smith’s death is now officially being considered a homicide by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, according to family attorney Eric Bland.
The death was previously classified as vehicular manslaughter. pic.twitter.com/7Ctv2Beg8W
— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) March 22, 2023
Smith’s death, which happened miles from the Murdaugh’s home, was linked to the Murdaugh murders in 2021 after SLED said it reopened the investigation “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh,” NBC News reported. (RELATED: Juror Says Murdaugh’s Testimony Was A Booger-Blowing Bluff)
“SLED officials have revealed that they did not need to exhume Stephen Smith’s body to convince them that his death was a homicide,” Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter said in a joint statement. “However, they will be present and participate in any exhumation of Stephen’s body to gather more evidence. We are committed to finding out what really happened, and getting the peace and justice the Smith family deserves.”
“We have a chance to right eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do just that,” Bland said.
Alex Murdaugh’s older brother allegedly called Smith’s father, Joel, and “offered his help looking into Smith’s death” even before authorities identified Smith as the victim, Smith’s mother Sandy told the New York Post.
Buster Murdaugh, a classmate of Smith, denied any involvement in his death on Monday and requested “the media immediately stop publishing these defamatory comments and rumors about me,” according to CNN.
“This has gone on far too long. These baseless rumors of my involvement with Stephen and his death are false.”