Son of Convicted Murderer Sues Netflix Over Documentary

The son of murderer Alex Murdaugh is suing Netflix and other major platforms for portraying him as complicit in the death of a 19-year-old. Buster Murdaugh said any suggestions he was involved with the killing of Stephen Smith in 2015 are “vicious rumors.” His suit relates to films including “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” on Netflix, “Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty,” distributed by Warner Bros, and “Murdaugh Murders: Deadly Dynasty,” produced by Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. and Blackfin Inc.

The filing notes a number of scenes within the documentaries that suggest Murdaugh is linked to Smith’s death, including a ten-minute segment in “Murdaugh Murders: Deadly Dynasty” that implied Buster Murdaugh murdered Smith because of his homosexuality. The film reportedly hints that Mr. Murdaugh and a group of friends beat the 19-year-old to death with baseball bats in Hampton County, South Carolina.  

The openly gay teenager’s body was found in the town, and authorities initially ruled that he had fallen victim to a hit-and-run. However, in 2021, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) opened a new investigation based on evidence uncovered during the probe into the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, who were found shot to death at the family’s estate in June. A SLED spokesperson confirmed that Smith’s death was being investigated as a homicide. 

Richard Alexander Murdaugh stood trial for the murder of his wife and son last January and received a sentence of life in prison without parole. 

The suggestion of Buster Murdaugh’s involvement in Smith’s death was emphasized by Michael DeWitt Jr., a journalist with the Hampton County Guardian, who appeared in the Netflix documentary and said, “We did everything but put the Murdaugh name in the story.” He also stated that there is “some truth” to rumors of a connection between Smith and the Murdaugh family, which left a “bad taste” in his mouth. 

Mr. Murdaugh’s attorneys say those statements demonstrated a “reckless indifference to the truth.”