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Stephen Smith family ‘not at peace,’ cousin says

(NewsNation) — In an exclusive “Banfield” interview, Stephen Smith’s cousin Joshua Carroll talks with NewsNation national correspondent Alex Caprariello, speaking out for the first time about the tragedy and the investigation.

From their early days in the rural low country of South Carolina, Smith and Carroll were inseparable. Carroll is now sharing his memories exclusively with NewsNation, eight years after his cousin’s tragic death.

“He was very himself regardless of who was around (in) what he was doing,” Carroll said. “Stephen was Stephen. You got what you got. There was no sugarcoating when it came to him.”

Carroll is a U.S. Marine, having served four overseas tours of duty. His mother and Sandy Smith, Stephen’s mother, are sisters.

Carroll said he and his aunt Sandy communicate just about every day regarding this investigation, keeping close tabs on it.

“Any progress is good progress,” Carroll said. “It’s at a point now to where we’re at peace with him being moved on. We’re just not at peace with not knowing exactly what happened.”

Smith was killed in 2015. His body was found on a road after it appeared his car had run out of gas. Smith, a 19-year-old nursing student, was found three miles from the car.

His death was initially ruled as a hit-and-run, but his family maintained it was murder.

Sandy Smith has long held that her son’s death was no accident but the result of a brutal beating.

Smith’s case resurfaced during the trial of Alex Murdaugh, whose son Buster went to school with Smith. There were rumors linking the two teens romantically and some suggested Buster and Paul Murdaugh were connected to Smith’s death.

“That particular family did have some type of control or persuasion over government rulings and outcomes and investigations,” Carroll said. “There’s clear evidence that there was tampering with other cases and stuff like that, that make you think and wonder, you know, how affected are we by this family?”

Buster Murdaugh has denied any involvement with Smith.

The renewed attention on the case led authorities to reexamine the evidence in Smith’s case and they reversed the initial ruling, calling his death a homicide.

Authorities have since exhumed and autopsied his body and a second autopsy was completed on his exhumed body, according to the family’s lawyer.

Carroll called the autopsies a huge success.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division promised the family more agents on the ground to reexamine the case, hoping locals with information will come forward, including, perhaps, people who were forced into silence or felt too intimidated in the past to share their truth.

“From day one. I’ve always felt it was it was homicide,” Carroll said. “Even if a vehicle was involved, I felt like it was way more than just an accident.”

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