Murdaugh star witness sets sights on another Lowcountry case

Dr. Kenneth Kinsey, who captivated jurors and audiences during his testimony, now has his sights on finding Stephen Smith’s killer.
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 10:46 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2023 at 9:28 AM EDT
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ORANGEBURG, SC - A star witness in the Alex Murdaugh trial is turning his focus to another Lowcountry investigation.

Dr. Kenneth Kinsey, who captivated jurors and audiences during his testimony, has his sights on finding Stephen Smith’s killer.

“I think the publicity from the Murdaugh trial has people paying attention to Stephen’s case again. So maybe one is hand in hand with the other, and if that’s the case, then even though it was a bad thing, it was a blessing for the Smith family,” forensic expert Dr. Kinsey said.

Weeks after taking the stand as the state’s forensic expert, Dr. Kinsey is deep into the investigation.

“I have reworked the aspects of both crime scenes where Mr. Smith’s vehicle was found abandoned and the location where he came to rest in the highway,” Kinsey said.

Initially, investigators considered Smith’s death the result of a hit and run.

The investigation stood still for six years until new evidence was found during the murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.

Representing Smith’s family, attorney Eric Bland brought on Dr. Kinsey as an independent investigator, retracing 19-year-old Smith’s final steps.

“I spent one day actually on site and I walked it from every direction because I wanted to look at every possibility,” Kinsey said.

Dr. Kinsey is recreating the homicide scene on rural roads in Hampton County where his lifeless body was found about three miles away from his abandoned car.

“I went down and rephotographed, remeasured, used some satellite imagery, some Google maps, and went every direction that I believe I could have got to Sandy Run Road,” Kinsey said.

Dr. Kinsey hopes to answer the lingering questions.

“It’s a lot of unanswered questions, but the big one is why was Mr. Smith located in that road deceased?”

Kinsey is not convinced by law enforcement’s initial theory that Smith’s car ran out of gas.

“Was his vehicle out of gas? We’re never gonna know because gas was put in the vehicle when Ms. Smith got the vehicle. I don’t know that it was ever checked. I don’t know if anyone ever tried to crank it just to see if it was out of gas,” Kinsey said, “Did somebody manipulate his vehicle where it would cut off or did he just decide to pull it over? His wallet was in the car, but if you’re going to get gas, why would you leave your wallet in the car?”

South Carolina Highway Patrol’s initial investigation found “No vehicle debris, skid marks, or injuries consistent with someone being struck by a vehicle.”

“The things that cause me concern is the lack of damage to his clothing and the lack of vehicle artifacts in the roadway. Those are the parts that hit me to start with,” Kinsey said. “Those are the things that I thought were strange.”

Kinsey’s team of investigators recently unearthed new evidence when Smith’s body was exhumed for an independent autopsy.

“They have actual physical evidence that they recovered at the second autopsy,” Kinsey said.

He is hoping to fill in the blanks that were left that night.

“I’ve established my data from the original scenes and the pathologists are still working on results from that second autopsy. I’m sure we’ll have a war room here real soon, where the whole team will get together,” Kinsey said.

He believes the team is getting closer to the truth about what happened on the dark country road on a hot summer night.

“There’s a little bit of truth in every rumor, every story. So if there’s a little bit of truth, then you know, there’s usually a whole lot of something else.”

Dr. Kinsey said any information he uncovers will go right to the State Law Enforcement Division and the attorneys representing Smith’s family.

Watch our entire conversation with Dr. Kinsey about the Stephen Smith case below:

Dr. Kenneth Kinsey says he believes they are closer to finding answers about Stephen Smith’s death.