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Crime & Courts

South Carolina Supreme Court To Unseal Judge’s Order Releasing Convicted Murderer

“Substantial assistance?”

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South Carolina supreme court chief justice Donald Beatty is reportedly preparing an order which could shed light on an extra-legal, unconstitutional ruling issued by retiring circuit court judge Casey Manning last month. Manning’s ruling – which is currently under seal – set a convicted murderer free in violation of the state’s mandatory minimum statue and the victims’ bill of rights enshrined in the S.C. Constitution.

Earlier today, I called for a criminal investigation of Manning following his decision to release Jeroid J. Price – who was released on March 15, 2023 despite having more than fifteen years remaining on his 35-year sentence for the 2002 murder of 22-year-old Carl Smalls of Charleston, S.C.

Price was released from a prison in New Mexico – where he was being held as part of an “interstate cooperation compact.” He was previously held in numerous S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) facilities since his 2003 conviction – as well as a New York prison as part of another “interstate cooperation compact.”

According to sources familiar with the situation, Price was moved to New Mexico on at least one occasion after allegedly calling in “hits” on not one but two SCDC wardens.

That is who judge Manning just set free, people …

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Price found his way into SCDC custody after he shot and killed Smalls in the early morning hours of December 7, 2002 following a dispute at a fraternity party at Club Voodoo in Columbia, S.C. A Richland County jury took just thirty minutes to convict him of murder the following year.

Incidentally, Price’s son – 23-year-old Jewayne M. Price – was charged last year in connection with a gang-related shooting at Columbiana Mall in northwest Columbia, S.C. He is currently incarcerated at the Alvin S. Glenn detention center in Richland County, S.C. as he awaits trial.

Jeroid Price is a leader of the Bloods gang. In fact, he has been described as the “Godfather of the G Shine Bloods” within SCDC. At the time of his murder, Smalls was affiliated with the Crips.

According to my judicial sources, Beatty is planning to unseal Manning’s order – which allegedly documents the “substantial assistance to the state” Price purportedly provided that the judge felt warranted his early release.

A hearing on Manning’s order has reportedly been scheduled for 4:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday (April 20, 2023) at the Richland County courthouse in downtown Columbia, S.C. S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson – who filed a motion yesterday asking for Manning’s order to be unsealed – will appear at the hearing on behalf of the state.

Did Price’s alleged cooperation with the state, in fact, warrant his release?

No … because under S.C. Code of Laws § 16-3-20 (A), “no person sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for thirty years to life pursuant to this section is eligible for parole or any early release program, nor is the person eligible to receive any work credits, education credits, good conduct credits, or any other credits that would reduce the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for thirty years to life required by this section.”

In other words, Price’s 35-year sentence was “day-for-day”… meaning he was required to serve every single day of it.

Additionally, Manning is accused of failing to notify Smalls’ family of Price’s release – or grant them an opportunity to speak at a hearing prior to ordering it. Those are both violations of the S.C. Constitution (Article I, Section 24), which holds that victims “be informed of any proceeding when any post-conviction action is being considered, and be present at any post-conviction hearing involving a post-conviction release decision.”

(Click to View)

Casey Manning (Facebook)

Manning, regular readers of this news outlet are aware, has a history of aiding and abetting judicial corruption in South Carolina. Nonetheless, he was hailed as a hero upon his retirement announcement – including praise heaped on his shoulders by governor Henry McMaster.

McMaster presented Manning with the Order of the Palmetto – the state’s highest civilian honor – for “remarkable career, and (his) remarkable impact on our state.”

Sources familiar with the sealed order from Manning say it documents assistance provided by Price related to inmate Jimmy Causey – who escaped from the Broad River Correctional Institution in 2005 and again from the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville, S.C. in 2017.

To recap: Causey escaped from Lieber at 7:41 p.m. EDT on July 4, 2017 by cutting through the fence. He reportedly used wire cutters delivered via drone to his prison to breach its perimeter. He was captured three days later – on July 7, 2017 – by agents of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) at a Motel 6 in Austin, Texas. Causey was armed with a shotgun, a semi-automatic handgun and carrying nearly $50,000 in cash at the time of his re-apprehension.

Causey was originally sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of kidnapping, armed robbery and first-degree burglary related to his role in a high-profile 2002 home invasion case.  He and another man broke into the home of his former lawyer – prominent Midlands, S.C. defense attorney Jack Swerling – and held Swerling and his family at gunpoint for hours.

According to my sources, Manning’s order releasing Price from prison cited S.C. Code of Laws § 17-25-65 – which allows judges to reduce sentences for inmates who provide “substantial assistance to the state.” There is nothing in the law stipulating whether these reductions apply to mandatory minimum sentences, however. Among the categories of assistance enumerated under the law is “aid” to any SCDC “employee or volunteer who was in danger of being seriously injured or killed” during riots or other violent incidents behind bars.

The code section - which was passed years after Price’s murder conviction - makes no reference to reductions in sentence for convicts who provide information related to escaped inmates. Also, sources close to the situation say there are serious questions as to the version of events Price is advancing.

Specifically, we are told there is evidence to suggest Price "set up Causey” so he could later provide the state with assistance in his apprehension - thus enabling him to petition for special privileges.

Whatever the circumstances of the order wind up being, my call for a criminal investigation of judge Manning stands. In fact, sources familiar with the case say it is "likely” he will be called before a statewide grand jury "sooner rather than later."

Meanwhile, David Pascoe - the solicitor who put Price in prison - told me he was "outraged” at Manning’s order releasing him.

"Jeroid Price is one of the most dangerous individuals I have ever put in prison,” Pascoe told me. "It is a travesty that Jeroid Price is out on our streets.”

UPDATE | S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson just issued a statement on Price’s release ...

(Via: S.C. Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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