Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

The late Stephen Smith, proper, along with his mom Sandy.

Sandy Smith, the mom of Stephen Smith, whose unsolved loss of life has haunted her for eight years, had a brief however excited message when she discovered that state police are actually shifting ahead along with his case as an official homicide investigation.

“I have been ready on this information for nearly 8 years!” Smith emailed to The Hampton County Guardian Tuesday evening. “I am in shock, I am elated, I am ready for the following chapter!”

Smith’s response got here minutes after her new authorized representatives within the case involving her deceased son, Bland Richter LLP, disclosed the outcomes of a cellphone name with South Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division (SLED) Chief Mark Keel.

Keel informed the household’s attorneys that the loss of life of Stephen Smith is now formally being thought of a murder, “a stunning announcement after eight years of being proclaimed a freeway vehicular manslaughter,” stated Bland Richter in a press release Tuesday evening.

Buster Murdaugh speaks:Says ‘vicious rumors’ about involvement in Stephen Smith’s loss of life

Dick Harpootlian and Eric Bland discuss in Alex Murdaugh’s trial for homicide on the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, February 9, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Put up and Courier/Pool

In keeping with the assertion, Bland Richter co-founder Eric Bland and Chief Keel, “have each dedicated to combining efforts, sharing info and sources because the state strikes ahead with exhuming Stephen Smith’s physique and its subsequent investigations.”

“Now we have an opportunity to proper eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do exactly that,” stated Bland.

Smith was discovered lifeless on rural Sandy Run Highway within the early morning hours of July 8, 2015, in a case that was controversially dominated a hit-and-run after a confused − and the household says shoddy − preliminary investigation.

The case went chilly till a 2019 boat crash involving the controversial Murdaugh household of Hampton County once more introduced it into the general public highlight. Much more questions had been raised about his loss of life two years later. SLED reopened Smith’s case in June 2021 “based mostly upon info gathered through the course of the double homicide investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh,” acknowledged a SLED spokesperson on the time.

Story continues

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SLED, Bland Richter working collectively on leads

SLED officers have additionally welcomed a partnership with Bland Richter on this investigation, say the Smith attorneys: “They imagine that working collectively will assist to deliver new leads and knowledge to gentle and can finally result in a decision on this case.”

Satisfied that her son’s loss of life was clearly a murder, as soon as the Alex Murdaugh homicide case ended, Smith’s mom opened a GoFundMe web page in March to lift cash for an exhumation and impartial post-mortem of her son’s stays.

“Smith’s household believes he was murdered, and desires an unbiased have a look at his physique and an correct willpower of his reason behind loss of life based mostly on information,” acknowledged Bland Richter. As of Tuesday afternoon the GoFundMe has raised over $80,000.

Sandy Smith smiles behind the brand new memorial for her son, Stephen Smith.

“SLED officers have revealed that they didn’t must exhume Stephen Smith’s physique to persuade them that his loss of life was a murder,” stated Bland and his associate Ronnie Richter in a joint assertion. “Nonetheless, they are going to be current and take part in any exhumation of Stephen’s physique to collect extra proof. We’re dedicated to discovering out what actually occurred, and getting the peace and justice the Smith household deserves.”

SLED has additionally revealed on the cellphone name that “they had been ready till the Murdaugh trial was over earlier than making this announcement out of concern that witnesses wouldn’t be as forthcoming beneath the Murdaugh sphere of affect,” added Bland.

Because the conclusion of the Murdaugh trial, extra sources have been devoted and might be dedicated to Stephen Smith’s case, SLED reportedly stated, and investigators now imagine the individuals in Hampton County who know what occurred to Smith could come ahead.

“SLED is publicly supporting us, Sandy Smith, and her efforts to seek out out what actually occurred to her son,” stated Richter. “They’ve expressed their condolences to the Smith household and can proceed to work diligently to deliver these liable for Stephen’s loss of life to justice.  We’re proud to be their associate to find justice.”

The Bland Richter legislation agency has a protracted historical past of efficiently representing purchasers in high-profile circumstances, together with a number of victims within the Alex Murdaugh saga, which has captured the nation.

The investigation into the loss of life of Stephen Smith is ongoing, and SLED officers are urging anybody with details about the case to come back ahead. Anybody with info is inspired to contact SLED’s tip line at 1-800-CALL-SLED.

With ideas across the Stephen Smith case please contact:

Renée WunderlichDirector of Public InformationSouth Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division (SLED)[email protected]

To achieve Bland Richter contact:

Whitney McDuffPublic Relations Director, Bland [email protected]

Michael DeWitt is the editor of the Hampton County Guardian and has been protecting the Murdaugh crime saga from its starting for the Greenville Information and the USA Right now Community.

Help Michael’s work with a digital subscription to the Hampton County Guardian, Greenville Information, Spartanburg Herald-Journal or Anderson Impartial Mail.

This text initially appeared on Greenville Information: SLED formally declares Stephen Smith’s loss of life a murder; mom

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