Prosecutors in the office of South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson are seeking a bench warrant for the arrest of gang leader Jeroid J. Price after he was illegally and unconstitutionally released from the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) last month by retiring circuit court judge Casey Manning.
Manning’s ruling – which was filed under seal – set the convicted murderer free on March 15, 2023 in violation of the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing statue and in direct contravention of victims’ bill of rights protections enshrined in the S.C. Constitution.
Police and prosecutors are now scrambling to undo the damage … and to get Price back into custody.
On Thursday afternoon, Wilson’s deputy Heather Weiss – a former fifth circuit solicitor – went to the state supreme court with a draft bench warrant for Price’s arrest. The draft warrant was accompanied by a “writ of prohibition” (.pdf) asking the court to “arrest Jeroid J. Price (and) return him to the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections immediately.”
The state supremes also posted an order unsealing Manning’s ruling (.pdf) – allowing the public to see what precipitated this profound miscarriage of justice.
The flurry of activity in the Price case came less than twenty-four hours after fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson issued a statement indicating his office never filed a motion to reduce the sentence of the gang leader – who shot and killed University of North Carolina football player Carl Smalls in the early morning hours of December 7, 2002 following a dispute at a fraternity party at Club Voodoo in Columbia, S.C.
Why did Gipson’s office never file such a motion?
“Because an order was issued before the motion could be filed,” the solicitor said in his statement (.pdf).
That would make Manning’s order illegitimate … in addition to being illegal and unconstitutional.
“I am requesting that this matter be reopened by the court in order to ensure that all statutory rights and procedures are followed correctly,” Gipson added.
Wilson’s office wasted little time in moving on Gipson’s statement.
“Last evening, solicitor Gipson released a statement confirming proper procedure did not happen in the release of Jeroid Price,” Wilson said in a statement. “While we are still unsure about several circumstances surrounding his release, we are certain Judge Manning’s order is void. This afternoon, we filed a motion asking for a bench warrant on Jeroid Price. He absolutely should not have been released from prison, and we need to get him back behind bars as quickly as possible.”
Indeed. But this story is much bigger than just putting a convicted murderer back where he belongs to finish serving the full imposed on him. This is about holding those who sprung him from jail in direct contravention of court rules, state law and the state constitution.
Accordingly, this news outlet called for a criminal investigation into Manning.
(Click to view)
“For South Carolinians to have any continued faith in their ‘justice’ system, this travesty cannot go unpunished,” I wrote.
As we reported yesterday, Price is alleged to have provided corrections officials with assistance related to inmate Jimmy Causey – who escaped from the Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia in 2005 and escaped again from the Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville in 2017.
Causey gained infamy when 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.
The nature of Price’s alleged assistance related to the re-apprehension of Causey is not clear. According to our sources, there is evidence to suggest Price “set up Causey” so he could later provide the state with assistance in his re-apprehension – thus enabling him to petition for special privileges.
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 release, he was serving a 35-year sentence for the murder of Smalls – who was affiliated with the Crips. At the time of the shooting, Price was referred to as a “superior” in the Bloods gang – leading a chapter referred to as the “GKB,” or “Gangster Killer Bloods.”
Price’s 35-year sentence was handed down by former S.C. circuit court judge Reggie Lloyd. It was affirmed by the S.C. supreme court in 2006, meaning Price was supposed to remain behind bars until 2038 – consistent with South Carolina’s mandatory minimums on murder convictions, S.C. Code of Laws § 16-3-20 (A).
Despite this, Manning’s order released Price 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.
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.”
Hopefully he won’t be for much longer …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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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