Hello and welcome to Luna Shark’s Soundbites. I’m Beth Braden, Luna Shark journalist and researcher for the True Sunlight Podcast hosted by Mandy Matney and Liz Farrell. Here are a few things you need to know as we charge headfirst into April. 

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Number One – Thrice Accused Rapist Bowen Turner is Back in Jail 

Now 21-year-old Bowen Turner is behind bars again just four months after he was released from prison for violating the terms of his probation in a sexual assault case three teenage victims in 2018 and 2019. This time, Bowen was arrested on March 9 after he wrecked his vehicle in Florence County and flipped it several times. His charges included DUI, disorderly conduct, an open container violation, a seatbelt violation, and resisting arrest. Being arrested is a violation of the terms of his release from prison, but a paperwork snafu nearly allowed him to walk free after his arraignment on March 11.  

Here’s Karl Stoller, the father of Dallas Stoller, a now-deceased victim of Turner, explaining how Bowen nearly walked out of the courthouse. 

We were there in reference to Turner’s previous charges, which she was currently on under intense Department of Corrections. And under my understanding is under supervision of probation and parole. And he said, yes, his question was that he didn’t know how that was relevant to the case or are in basically show response to the judge was that was to reinforce the information that he had on the criminal history right in front of him, Mr. Turner, about his tendencies to be a repeat offender, obviously. And so the judge listen to a couple more things she had to say. And at that point, he did allow Sarah, to forward make a statement after insert the mind when he during initially said he wasn’t going to hear anything on that because he didn’t really have any information as to the violation of the intensive supervision. terms, if you will. And that was with that would have been a misdemeanor charge, from probation and parole and Department of Corrections, but they didn’t have that warrant available. And he had not actually been served with that warrant or that charging document at that point. So there was some conversation he possibly was here that three o’clock that afternoon, which we will surprise but nevertheless, Sarah gave a statement and then I gave a statement.

True Sunlight Episode 42

You can get all of the details, as well as hear from Sarah A. Ford, the attorney who represents Turner’s victims, on True Sunlight Episode 42. Cup of Justice Co-Host Eric Bland discusses the issue with Mandy and Liz on COJ Episode 73. 

Number Two – Luna Shark Has a New Case With Some Strange Yet Familiar Details 

We are in deep-dive mode as we prepare to cover the re trial of Michael Collucci, a Charleston-area jeweler accused of killing his wife, Sara Lynn Moore Colucci in 2015. Michael Collucci maintains that Sara committed suicide by hanging herself with a hose wrapped around a chain link fence post….but Michael was apparently sitting in a vehicle just a few feet from where Sara died. 

The case has some familiar themes — a strange 911 call, first responders who testified that the scene didn’t look quite right, a powerful family, and allegations of drug abuse and enabling of bad behavior. 

On May 20, 2015, 38-year-old Sara Lynn Moore-Colucci was found dead outside of the jewelry warehouse in Summerville, South Carolina that she owned with her husband, whose stepfather was a well-known and well-respected jeweler.

Sara’s husband, Michael Colucci — a man who ran with highly connected circles in Charleston, which reportedly includes members of law enforcement — told police his wife hung herself with a garden hose. 

But like Alex Murdaugh — the story that Michael Colucci told police about the circumstances surrounding his  wife’s death shifted several times — and ultimately, just didn’t add up. 

In fact, Alex Murdaugh and Michael Colucci have several things in common. 

While Alex is a South Carolina native, Michael moved to Charleston from New York City when he was 5 years old with his mother, brother, stepfather and five step-siblings. Despite that, like Alex, he was well entrenched in the Good Ole Boy System we so often warn the world about. 

In fact, Alex and Michael both had enough connections among law enforcement and the courts that warranted the local solicitor’s offices and the sheriff’s offices to recuse themselves in their cases – leaving SLED to investigate and the AG’s office to prosecute the case. 

Both Alex and Michael have last names that mean a whole lot to them – legacy, money, power. In fact, Michael even changed his last name to that of his stepfather. Some say that was Michael adopting the credibility and esteem of Ivo Colucci — credibility and esteem he had not earned on his own.

True Sunlight Episode 41

Michael’s 2018 trial for Sara’s murder ended in a mistrial as the jury could not come to a verdict. On May 13, 2024, the South Carolina Attorney General’s office will try again to get a conviction, and we will stream it live for our Soak up the Sun Premium members. Keep an eye on your email for details and links to the YouTube streams. We are also working on gathering case files, court filings, and police reports as we learn more about Sara, her parents, and the Coluccis. In all, I’ve filed more than a dozen Freedom of Information Act requests to make sure we have the full picture, and new documents come in almost every day.  

You can hear more about the Colucci case on True Sunlight Episodes 41, 42, and 43 and Cup of Justice Episodes 72 and 73. 

Number Three – Photos from Stephen Smith’s Phone and iPad Could Have Some Really Important Clues PLUS! We finally got to hear Stephen’s voice after all this time. 

In True Sunlight Episode 40, Mandy and Liz dove deep into thousands of images from Stephen’s phone and Ipad. The images were on a CD that the South Carolina highway patrol gave to Sandy Smith several years ago – a CD that she placed to the side because the thought of looking through it was too painful to bear. This also means that at some point, the highway patrol DID in fact have access to these images. While the download doesn’t include other vital information such as texts, emails, phone calls, and other digital forensic data, there are still some big hints about Stephen’s state of mind and his life around the time of his death. 

Stephen Smith had a fantastic sense of humor, school and reading were at the center of his world. He was often frustrated with the cost of college, which is evident in the many means he saved on his phone.

True Sunlight Episode 41

The CD also contained something that took our breath away – we got to hear Stephen’s voice in  a video where he was calling to his beloved pet cat as he appeared to study for school. 

We’ve heard so many voices talk about Stephen. But we’ve never heard Stephen’s voice.

Until now.

On the CD of downloads, there was a video taken on May 1, 2015 … just two months before Stephen died.

On it, you can hear him talk to his cats.

Stephen, if you didn’t know this already, loved cats. 

And just like in the kennel video of Paul Murdaugh, when he says “It’s a chicken,” Stephen is putting on a voice as he talks to his cat.

Meaning, he’s not talking in his regular voice as he talks to the recipient of the video.

Stephen appears to be studying. According to data from the video, he’s at his father’s house and it’s about 8 a.m.

The video starts by him whistling to his cat, who comes running to him.

The cat jumps off and then Stephen whistles for her to come back to him again to show that she does, in fact, respond to his whistle calls.

True Sunlight Episode 41

You can hear all of our latest Stephen Smith Coverage in True Sunlight Episodes 40 and 41, as well as in Cup of Justice Episode 72. 

The information we found in Stephen’s photos gave us several  ideas for new research angles and new FOIA requests we could file. I have so much hope that Sandy can finally get to the truth about what happened to her son. 

We believe Stephen’s case can be solved, especially as we comb through the images from the phone and iPad. We believe somebody in Hampton County has answers, and the time to clear your conscience and give the Smith family peace is now. If you knew Stephen personally, especially in the months and weeks leading up to his death in July 2015, please reach out to Mandy by emailing [email protected]. You can also visit answersforstephen.com to submit an anonymous tip. If you want to speak directly to South Carolina’s State Law Enforcement Division,  you can reach them by emailing [email protected] No tip is too small or inconsequential. Sometimes the smallest detail is the puzzle piece that assembles the full picture. Remember – there is a $30,000 reward for information leading to a conviction. 

Number 4 – Mandy and Liz had a great conversation with journalist and author Tamron Hall 

Tamron Hall is an Emmy-award winning television host, executive producer of her own talk show, longtime journalist and bestselling author, and she was an amazing guest on Cup of Justice. Tamron joined Mandy and Liz as they discussed why there is no such thing as an unbiased journalist, the issues within modern news reporting and the toll that true crime reporting takes on journalists. Tamron also talked about her new book, Watch Where They Hide.

I’ve been open that my sister’s death is an unsolved case. And part of the reason I was so hesitant, in addition to the domestic violence that that that existed in her life, and that she endured being a complicated conversation for my family. My sister also struggled in the early part of her life with substance abuse. And I did not want people to then start digging around in her past to try to understand why this happened to her. It wasn’t relevant to what happened to her. And the angel. She was a prostitute. And that’s how she died story. Right? And I am very sensitive to that. 

Tamron Hall, Cup of Justice Episode 71

You can hear the entire interview on Cup of Justice Episode 71. 

Number 5 – Becky Hill Resigned From Her Seat as the Colleton County Clerk of Court 

In a bizarre March 25 press conference on the Colleton County Courthouse steps, the controversial clerk who was accused of tampering with the Murdaugh trial jury announced that she would not run for reelection and was resigning effective immediately. Hill, who was joined by her office staff and her attorney, Justin Bamberg, insisted that the resignation has nothing to do with any investigation into whether or not she used her office as court clerk for personal gain, but Hill’s co-author, Neil Gordon, told the Surviving the Survivor Podcast that he was interviewed by SLED for two hours on Friday, March 22. 

So essentially –  when asked who would take over for her, Becky pointed to the guy she blamed for one of her ethics debacles who recently got promoted from bailiff to deputy clerk. That is.. Interesting. 

But soon ever the press conference ended, Gov Mcmaster released a statement appointing Judge Ceth Utsey …another name that should sound familiar. 

Ceth Utsey is the husband of Meagan Utsey… the public information officer for Colleton County who Becky’s son Colt was reportedly spying on last summer  – which he was charged with wiretapping around thanksgiving. 

Y’all see how small these circles are? PHEW.

Gary Hale has not filed to run for clerk of court… yet. But if he does… let’s just say we have found quite the paper trail between Barbieland Becky and Gary Hale. And boy, do we have questions.

Again, SLED’s investigation into Becky Hill is ongoing. She is by no means in the clear of anything. While I have zero faith in Becky’s moral compass right now, I hope she is smart enough to stay far away from the clerk’s office. And books. And the media. 

 I hope she does focus on her family and grandchildren now because she could be facing charges at some point. 

True Sunlight Episode 44

Number Six – Alex Murdaugh knows his federal sentence for the financial crimes. 

Alex Murdaugh made an April Fool’s Day appearance in federal court where he learned the 21 charges he pleaded guilty to netted him a 40 year federal prison sentence. Mandy and Liz get into the math a bit more in COJ episode 75 and True Sunlight episode 45, but it looks like the federal sentence essentially adds 13 years of prison time after he serves his state prison sentence

In Mid March, Mandy was at the Tucson Book Festival where she spoke on two panels — Real Life Lady Detectives and Ripped from the Headlines. She also had the chance to sign copies of her book, Blood on Their Hands, for Luna Shark fans. Keep an eye on your premium feed for an upcoming bonus episode of audio from the panels. 

On March 21, Mandy, Eric Bland, and Sandy Smith attended the Victims Matter Rally on the statehouse steps in Columbia South Carolina where Carl Smalls Senior, the father of the USC Football player killed by Jeroid Price in 2002, shook the plaza as he called out the dirty deal that allowed Price to be released from prison 16 years early. 

The media has been great to us for putting our story on an expanse exposing the travesty of justice. Also, we know that by the end of the day, we will hear that this family is being used for political purposes. Well, if you feel that way you got us we are guilty as charged. Just know that we are not being blindly led around by anyone. We are playing eyes. We see you the state See you this country sees you. Law

Law light always overcome darkness and if this case can be used to shine through and expose wrongdoing, again, you got us we have Guilty as charged This absolute travesty of justice was brought to us by the unlawful firm of Gibson, Rutherford, and Manny.

True Sunlight Episode 43

On April 11, Mandy will speak at the Kansas Crime Victims Rights Conference in Wichita. You can get more details at luna shark media dot com forward slash events. 

Later this year,  she’ll be headed to Nashville, Napa, Maui, Washington DC, Baltimore, Philly and Missouri.  If you have a suggestion for an event nearby or something entirely new, visit lunasharkmedia.com slash new events to submit your idea. 

As we grow, more and more of these in person events will be reserved just for Premium Members and you can join as a Soak Up The Sun Member with 50% off the first month at lunashark.supercast.com . As always, we deeply appreciate your support as we work to bring sunlight to some very dark corners of the criminal justice system. 

And Until next month, Stay Pesky. 

Contact Beth Braden

Beth Braden

Beth Braden is an award-winning journalist with experience covering government, education and crime and courts for more than 10 years. In addition to following breaking news and writing feature stories about life in her home state of Tennessee, her by-line appears on several internationally known websites.

Beth is passionate about communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand manner and she loves to pore over public records and court documents as she seeks out patterns and context to share with her audience. In her spare time, she enjoys quilting, strange museums, and good cups of coffee.

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