Attorney confirms reexamination, 2nd autopsy of Stephen Smith’s body
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - An attorney for the mother of a Hampton County teen whose death was recently declared a homicide confirmed his body was exhumed and examined this weekend.
Stephen Smith was found dead in the middle of a Hampton County road in 2015. Initial reports from the South Carolina Highway Patrol and a ruling from the Hampton County Coroner’s Office indicated Smith was the victim of a hit-and-run crash.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division re-opened the case in June 2021, shortly after the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, based on information discovered during that initial investigation.
Attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, who represent Stephen’s mother, Sandy Smith, announced on March 21 his death is now considered a homicide by SLED agents.
Stephen’s family launched an online fundraiser on March 9 for his body to be independently exhumed and examined.
In a tweet, Bland thanked people who he says helped contribute to the exhumation and autopsy of Stephen’s body.
“A tremendous amount of planning went into this past weekend by a lot of people, including the funeral home, coroner, DHEC, the excavators, doctors Dupre, Schultz and Haney and at least 12 SLED Officers,” Bland said. “The biggest thanks goes to SLED Chief Mark Keel because without him, this could not have gone on without a hitch.”
Previously, Bland and Richter estimated an exhumation could cost between $10,000 and $25,000, and some expert trial witnesses can cost up to $600 or $700 per hour. But they vowed there would be “full transparency” on how the money will be spent.
It is unclear at this time how much the exhumation ended up costing.
After the new autopsy, Stephen’s body was put back into his grave.
“I now believe that Stephen can really rest at ease because SLED and our team are going to do everything possible to find out just how he died,” Bland said.
No suspects have ever been officially named in the teen’s death, but the Murdaugh family name comes up several times in investigative files.
Buster Murdaugh, the surviving son of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh, claims he had nothing to do with Stephen’s death.
My partner, Ronnie Richter, and I, as attorneys for Sandy Smith, and on behalf of Steven Smith, would like to thank everyone who contributed in the Exhumation, Transporting Stephen, protecting and guarding Stephen while he was being re-examined, and the second autopsy being done,…— Eric Bland (@TheEricBland) April 2, 2023
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