Substantial progress in homicide investigation of other teens

Behind the scenes, progress is being made in the homicide investigation of Stephen Smith, a Smith family attorney said this week.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which took over the Smith’s cold case and began investigating the unsolved death in the summer of 2021, is now making “substantial” progress, attorney Eric Bland said.

SLED Chief Mark Keel has been keeping the Smith family updated, and the most recent SLED update was promising, Bland said.

“According to Chief Keel, they (SLED) have some individuals in mind who have some knowledge and responsibility, and they are issuing subpoenas and warrants,” Bland recently told The Hampton County Guardian.

Bland is also seeing evidence, although unconfirmed, that the SC Attorney General’s Office has embedded the SC State Grand Jury.

“Only a court or a grand jury can issue subpoenas,” added Bland. “I really do feel like by Labor Day we should see some signs of movement and know some things publicly.”

Here’s what to know about Stephen Smith’s death, murder investigation

Smith’s body was found lying in the middle of Sandy Run Road in rural Hampton County in the early morning hours of July 8, 2015, with fatal blunt force trauma to the head and other, secondary injuries.

Originally ruled a vehicular hit-and-run homicide in 2015, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) reopened the case in June 2021 and on March 23 of this year, SLED confirmed to the Smith family that it was officially considering the case a murder investigation.

The cold case of Smith’s unsolved 2015 death, reignited in light of recent events surrounding the convicted murderer and accused fraudster Richard “Alex” Murdaugh, has been the subject of rallying cries for justice in recent months, a cry amplified after his mother, Sandy Smith, launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for an exhumation and an independent autopsy of her son, and to hire new investigators and legal representatives in hopes of sparking a new investigation.

In addition to any new evidence that might have been yielded in the second autopsy, SLED forensic agents have located and are combing over other physical evidence, such as Smith’s phone, tablet, clothing and rape kit.

Bland, of Bland Richter LLP, began representing Smith’s case after being retained by the young man’s mother, Sandy Smith, in the wake of the Murdaugh murder conviction. Bland Richter made headlines in the Murdaugh case for their work representing the family of Gloria Satterfield, whose accidental death in 2018 led to criminal and civil cases against Murdaugh.

Follow Hampton County Guardian Editor Michael DeWitt on Twitter at @mmdewittjr and support his local and national journalism with a digital subscription.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Stephen Smith attorney: Substantial progress in homicide investigation

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