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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rachel Sharp

Buster Murdaugh breaks silence on Stephen Smith killing – and insists his father is innocent

Fox Nation

Buster Murdaugh has broken his silence to deny any involvement in the mysterious killing of gay teenager Stephen Smith – and insist that he still believes his father is innocent of the murders of his mother and brother.

Alex Murdaugh’s only surviving son spoke out in his first TV interview since his family was propelled to national attention, for the new three-part FOX Nation documentary “The Fall of the House of Murdaugh”.

In the interview, Buster slammed rumours that he too could have been involved in a heinous murder – that of 19-year-old Smith in July 2015 – and offered an alibi for his whereabouts on the night the teenager was killed.

“I never had anything to do with his murder, and I never had anything to do with him on a physical level in any regard,” he said in a clip from the documentary, due for release on 31 August.

Smith, a nursing student, was found dead on a road in Hampton County, South Carolina, in the early hours of 8 July 2015 – not far from the prominent Murdaugh family’s estate where Alex Murdaugh murdered Maggie and Paul six years later.

Despite Smith suffering blunt force trauma to the head and there being no skid marks or vehicular debris on the road, officials ruled his death a hit-and-run at the time.

Smith’s mother long questioned this official account and, for years, the Murdaugh name continued to crop up in connection to the case.

Buster and Smith were classmates and there were unsubstantiated rumours that the two had been in some sort of relationship around the time of his death.

Smith’s mother Sandy Smith named Buster as the prime suspect in her son’s murder in a letter begging the FBI to get involved in the case back in 2016.

In June 2021 – mere days after Maggie and Paul’s murders – SLED announced that it was opening a new investigation into Smith’s death.

Buster Murdaugh gives first TV interview
— (Fox Nation)

This April, the agency then finally announced that Smith’s death was being investigated as a homicide and his body was exhumed for a private autopsy.

No one has ever been charged over Smith’s death and law enforcement have never announced anything linking Buster to the killing.

In the FOX Nation documentary, Buster for the first time offered an alibi for the night of Smith’s death saying that he was at his family’s Edisto Beach house with his late mother and brother.

Hitting out at the rumours that continue to swirl, he said it was “a terrible thing” to be accused of.

“I don’t want to be rude here, but have you ever been accused of murdering somebody?” he asked.

“Well, let me tell you, this is very, very, very, very, very, it’s a terrible thing to place on somebody with absolutely no fact. I mean, it has harmed my reputation. I mean, people perceive me as a murderer.”

In the interview, Buster also doubled down on his father’s innocence in the murders of Maggie and Paul – even after a jury of 12 peers convicted him back in March and he was sentenced to life in prison on the charges.

Maggie and Paul were found shot dead on the family’s 1,700-acre Moselle estate back on 7 June 2021. Alex Murdaugh had called 911 claiming to have found their bodies.

When asked if he ever thought it possible that his father might have killed their loved ones, Buster insisted no.

“No, because I think that I hold a very unique perspective that nobody else in that courtroom ever held. And I know the love that I have witnessed,” he said.

Stephen Smith was found dead in a road back in 2015
— (Sandy Smith/GoFundMe)

The 29-year-old went on to say that he thinks there are a lot of questions that still need to be answered about the murders.

“My biggest thing that I want people to realise, that there are always two sides of the story. Now, they can pick which one they want to believe,” he said.

“But I think there’s a heck of a lot that still needs to be answered about what happened on June the 7th.”

He said that prosecutors presented a “crappy motive” and that the case was not “fair”.

“I do not believe it was fair,” he said. “I was there for six weeks studying it, and I think it was a tilted table from the beginning.

“And I think, unfortunately, a lot of the jurors felt that way prior to when they had to deliberate. It was predetermined in their minds prior to when they ever heard any shred of evidence that was given in that room.”

Buster said that he believed the police were under “an awful lot of pressure” to come up with a suspect in the killings and so “the route that they decided to go with” was to charge his father.

He also blamed the media coverage of the case which he said left jurors going into the process with their minds already made up.

“Because of everything they had the ability to read prior to the trial,” he said.

Alex Murdaugh as he is sentenced to life in prison
— (AP)

“I think that people get overwhelmed, and I think that they believe everything that they read. And I think it took advantage of a jury pool in a very small town in a very small county.”

Now, with his father behind bars, he said he fears that the real killer is still walking free.

“I think I set myself up to be safe but yes, when I go to bed at night, I have a fear that there is somebody that is still out there,” Buster added.

Throughout the high-profile murder trial, Buster stood by his father, attending each day of the court’s proceedings with his family members.

Buster also testified in his father’s defence saying that Murdaugh had been “destroyed” and “heartbroken” in the aftermath of the deaths of his mother and brother.

But despite continuing to insist his father’s innocence even now, Buster did not deny that his father may be a psychopath.

“I’m not prepared to sit here and say that it encompasses him as a whole, but I certainly think there are characteristics where you look at the manipulation and the lies and the carrying out of that such, and I think that’s a fair assessment,” he said.

When asked if he worries he might be like his father, Buster also had some harsh words for his father’s character.

Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh
— (Maggie Murdaugh/Facebook)

“No, I do not worry, because I am not a thief. I am not a liar. I’m not a manipulator,” he said.

“In those regards, I am nothing like him, but, in other regards, I believe that I do hold some of his more admirable traits, which I am quite proud of.”

Murdaugh, 54, was sentenced to life in prison for the murders and is serving his time in the maximum security facility McCormick Correctional Institution in South Carolina.

He is also facing a slew of financial fraud charges for stealing millions of dollars from his law firm clients and his dead housekeeeper’s family and over a botched hitman plot where he claims he paid an accomplice to shoot him dead.

As well as Smith’s death, Murdaugh’s high-profile conviction also shone a spotlight on some other mystery deaths tied to the South Carolina legal dynasty.

An investigation was also reopened into another mystery death connected to the Murdaugh family – that of their longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.

She died in 2018 in a mystery trip and fall accident at the family home. Murdaugh then allegedly stole around $4m in a wrongful death settlement from her sons.

At the time of his murder, Paul was also awaiting trial for the 2018 boat crash death of Mallory Beach.

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