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Young man’s death is now being investigated as a homicide after Alex Murdaugh’s trial

The death of Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old found dead on a rural South Carolina road in 2015, is now being investigated as a homicide, authorities said Tuesday evening.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division made the decision following the trial of Alex Murdaugh, in which the former attorney was found guilty of murdering his wife and son at the property of family hunting. The department first announced in 2021 that it would open an investigation into Smith’s death due to new information it had gathered as part of its investigation into the murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.

Smith’s body was found on July 8, 2015, and an autopsy showed blunt force trauma to the head and wounds to his arm and hand. His body was about 15 miles from the Murdaugh home.

First responders at the scene questioned whether his head injuries could have been from a gunshot wound, but a coroner later ruled his death was the result of a hit-and-run. He was found about three miles from his car, which was abandoned with its gas tank open, authorities said at the time.

No one has been arrested or charged in Smith’s death. Authorities have not announced any connection between the Murdaugh family or Smith’s death.

Smith’s mother said last week she intended to have his body exhumed to gather further evidence of his death.

“I just knew in my heart that what they were telling me wasn’t true,” Sandy Smith told NewsNation on Tuesday night.

Lawyers for the family said authorities’ decision on Tuesday showed authorities already had enough information to be concerned about the cause of his death.

“SLED officials have revealed that they did not need to exhume Stephen Smith’s body to satisfy them that his death was a homicide,” attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter said in a statement. “However, they will be present and assist in any exhumation of Stephen’s body to gather further evidence. We are committed to finding out what really happened and to getting the peace and justice the Smith family deserves.

Fox Carolina reported Tuesday that SLED waited until after the Alex Murdaugh trial to announce the new investigation.

The Huffington Gt

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