Alex Murdaugh's guilty verdict in his double murder trial has shed new light on the 2015 death of Buster Murdaugh's 19-year-old classmate, Stephen Smith, just miles from the Murdaugh's hunting property in Islandton, South Carolina.
After a jury on March 3 found the disgraced, 54-year-old lawyer guilty of his wife and son's 2021 murders, one heckler outside the Colleton County courthouse shouted, "Buster is next!" as authorities escorted Alex into a vehicle.
Buster, 26, is Alex's eldest and only surviving son, who testified in defense of his father during the double murder trial that began on Jan. 25.
Since his father's conviction, Buster has come under public scrutiny over Smith's death.
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The 19-year-old was killed in what police initially described as a hit-and-run, just miles from the Murdaugh family's hunting estate called Moselle, where Alex fatally shot his wife Maggie and his son Paul on June 7, 2021.
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The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has reopened an investigation into Smith's death.
Attorney Eric Bland, who represented the children of the Murdaughs' late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield — who died at the Murdaugh's Moselle home in an apparent 2018 fall — described the Murdaugh family's "long-rumored involvement" in Smith's death on "Fox & Friends" earlier this month.
"He was found in the middle of a country road in Hampton County, and … the highway department said he was hit by a car, but there was no broken glass, no car parts," Bland told co-host Pete Hegseth. "His clothes were intact, his shoes were on, and he had… a clear head trauma injury that looked like it was done by something other than a car."
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Murdaugh "supposedly showed up on the accident scene, and according to [Smith's mother, Sandy], she received a telephone call from him where he offered to represent her, and she was very confused as to why she would need representation," Bland continued.
Sandy Smith shared a statement with journalist Mandy Matney of the "Murdaugh Murders Podcast."
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"This verdict provides Maggie's and Paul's loved ones the answers and closures which they need to heal from this vicious tragedy. We know firsthand the agony and frustration of being in the dark about how a family member was killed and I am thankful the whole story was put before the jury in a public trial. One day, I pray the same happens for my Stephen," Smith said in the March 2 statement.
Mike Hemlepp, an attorney representing the Smith family, said they are "confident" SLED will "continue to exhibit this level of dedication to their investigation into Stephen's murder, no matter where that investigation may lead."
Prosecutors said Alex killed his 52-year-old wife and 22-year-old son to divert attention away from his alleged financial crimes, which were beginning to come to light in the summer of 2021.
Alex is accused of embezzling money from his family's law firm and its clients. He is facing 99 financial crimes stemming from 19 separate indictments and totaling nearly $9 million.
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The complex narrative surrounding Alex's crimes — and the Murdaugh family — is far from over, even though the double murder trial ended on March 3. He is now facing trial for his alleged financial crimes.
"I don't think he's going to plead guilty, because it'll put him in a position of now having only two more financial crimes to be convicted of, where he would end up getting life without parole, which would be a backstop if the murder conviction was ever reversed or remanded for a new trial," Bland previously told Fox News Digital. "So, I think they're going to tie him up in a pretzel."
His clients, the Satterfields, recovered a multimillion-dollar settlement from their mother's death that was rightfully theirs after Murdaugh allegedly stole it when he represented them in a personal injury lawsuit following their mother's fall on his property. They even got an apology from the disgraced attorney, but they still want to "hold Alex accountable" for his other crimes, Bland said.