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Buster Murdaugh sues Netflix, other media giants over suggestion he may have killed ex-classmate

Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh, testifies during his father's trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. The 54-year-old attorney is standing trial on two counts of murder in the shootings of his wife and son at their Colleton County, S.C., home and hunting lodge on June 7, 2021. (Grace Beahm Alford/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)

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Buster Murdaugh is seeking damages from Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery and other media giants for probing the idea he was involved in the 2015 killing of a former classmate.

Buster, 30, has mostly shied away from the limelight in the year since his father, Alex Murdaugh, was sentenced to life in prison for the June  7, 2021, shooting deaths of wife Maggie and younger son Paul at the family’s South Carolina home.

On Friday, Buster, a former law student, filed a suit demanding damages from eight defendants – including the media channels and the local South Carolina newspaper the Hampton County Guardian – for producing content that suggested he might be linked to the 2015 death of Stephen Smith.

Smith, 19, was found dead in the early hours of July 8, 2015, on Sandy Run Road, not far from the 1,700-acre hunting estate where Alex Murdaugh gunned down Maggie and Paul six years later.

The teen’s death was initially attributed to a hit-and-run, but the case was reopened thanks to new allegations unearthed during the investigation in Maggie and Paul’s deaths.

Last spring, the South Carolina state authorities announced that Smith was the victim of an “intentional killing” – which drove even more speculation that Buster might somehow be tied to the murder.

“I think this lawsuit will backfire,” said Eric Bland, a lawyer for Smith’s family, to the Daily Beast.

“I talked to a number of attorneys who were asked to take on his lawsuit, and they passed,” the lawyer said.

The rumors about Buster and Stephen Smith – including allegations that they may have had a romantic relationship – were covered in multiple documentaries released in the wake of Alex Murdaugh’s trial, noted the lawsuit, which was viewed by The Post.

Netflix’s “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” depicted “a young man with red hair carrying a baseball bat” during a reenactment of Smith’s death, the filing said.

“The Plaintiff has red hair, and it is readily ascertainable from the content of the series that the creators were depicting the Plaintiff as the murderer of Stephen Smith,” Buster’s suit said.

The lawsuit also named Michael M. DeWitt Jr., the editor of the Hampton County Guardian, who appeared in the Netflix documentary.

“The Plaintiff has red hair, and it is readily ascertainable from the content of the series that the creators were depicting the Plaintiff as the murderer of Stephen Smith,” Buster’s suit said.

The filing cited several of DeWitt’s statements during his appearance, including the allegations that “there is some truth” to the rumors linking Buster and Smith.

Buster previously blasted the “vicious rumors” in a statement issued shortly after Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for the double-murder of Maggie and Paul.

“I unequivocally deny any involvement in his death, and my heart goes out to the Smith family,” Buster said of his former classmate’s death.

But Bland told the Daily Beast that Buster’s new lawsuit could only increase the attention zeroed in on the new investigation into Smith’s death.

This will only bring a spotlight to Stephen’s investigation,” he said, adding that Buster risked “exposing himself” through the discovery process.

The proceedings may also generate more content for the producers behind the original documentaries, Bland said.

“I think the defendants will love this lawsuit because it will make a part three of any documentary,” he said.

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