South Carolina chief justice Donald Beatty was warned a week ago that convicted killer and gang leader Jeroid J. Price – who was illegally and unconstitutionally released from the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) last month by retiring judge Casey Manning – was both a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Not only that, Beatty was expressly encouraged to take Price into custody prior to Wednesday’s big hearing in front of the state supreme court – which voided Manning’s order by a narrower-than-expected 3-2 margin.
News of Price’s release was first reported by this news outlet last Monday. Over the intervening days, the story dominated headlines across the Palmetto State as prosecutors and politicians scrambled to determine how Price got out of jail … and more importantly, how to get him back behind bars.
S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson filed a “writ of prohibition” (.pdf) on Thursday, April 20, 2023 urging the court to “arrest Jeroid J. Price (and) return him to the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections immediately.”
“While we are still unsure about several circumstances surrounding his release, we are certain Judge Manning’s order is void,” Wilson said in a statement accompanying the writ.
Indeed it was … although it was incredibly disappointing to hear Beatty and justice George C. “Buck” James use the hearing as an opportunity to evade accountability for the judicial branch’s latest travesty. It was especially troubling to hear James claim that Price’s release – which was engineered by powerful lawyer-legislator Todd Rutherford was “wholly irrelevant” to the ongoing discussion over
Manning’s order releasing Price – which was originally sealed from public view – expressly violated South Carolina’s mandatory minimums on murder convictions, as contained in § 16-3-20 (A) of the state’s code of laws. More egregiously, it violated the victims’ bill of rights provision of the S.C. Constitution (Article I, Section 24). That provision affords victims the right to “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.”
Wilson’s office won its motion on the strength of those arguments … but by the time it did, the “close monitoring” of Price had become a bit more distant. In fact, it had become nonexistent.
(Click to view)
Price was in the Midlands region of the state as recently as this week – getting a haircut and visiting a female friend, among other pursuits. At some point within the last few days, however, he traveled to Charlotte, N.C. – which is where law enforcement allegedly “lost him.”
Price was convicted in 2003 of murdering University of North Carolina football player Carl Smalls in the early morning hours of December 7, 2002 following a gang-related dispute at Club Voodoo in Columbia, S.C
Price is a leader in the Bloods gang – having been described as “Godfather of the G Shine Bloods” within SCDC. At the time of the Club Voodoo shooting, Price was referred to as a “superior” in the criminal organization – leading a chapter referred to as the “GKB,” or “Gangster Killer Bloods.” Price’s son – 23-year-old Jewayne M. Price – is also a gang leader. He was charged last year in connection with a gang-related shooting at Columbiana Mall in northwest Columbia, S.C. and is currently incarcerated at the Alvin S. Glenn detention center in Richland County, S.C.
S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – the prosecutor who put Price in prison for Smalls’ murder – referred to the gang leader as “one of the most dangerous individuals I have ever put in prison.”
“It is a travesty that Jeroid Price is out on our streets,” Pascoe told me last week.
(Click to view)
In his bid to put Price back behind bars, Wilson didn’t merely argue the issue in the public sphere. On Friday, April 21, 2023, he sent Beatty a letter leaving no doubt as to the position of the state regarding the danger he posed to the public.
In that letter (.pdf) – a copy of which was obtained exclusively by this news outlet – Wilson said his office was “very concerned that Price is currently under no bond or order of any kind requiring his presence in South Carolina.”
“Mr. Price is not only a danger to the community but a flight risk,” Wilson wrote to Beatty. “We therefore respectfully request that the court immediately issue a bench warrant to hold Mr. Price until the court makes a final determination.”
Beatty declined to issue such an order. In fact he never responded to Wilson. And when the court finally ruled in Wilson’s favor five days later, he sided against voiding Price’s extralegal release. By that time, though, it was too late. Price was already “in the wind” – to quote sources of reporter John Monk of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.
As previously reported, I have called for a criminal investigation into Manning – who has a history of aiding and abetting judicial corruption in South Carolina (a call which has been echoed by Smalls’ family). I have also called on state lawmakers to enact a substantive overhaul of the way judges are chose in the Palmetto State.
As this news outlet has consistently argued, the current system has enabled institutional corruption, shredded the rights of victims, empowered violent criminals and materially eroded public safety. Now a powerful gang leader is on the run from the law thanks to this failed system … which state lawmakers have reflexively defended (and continue to defend, inexplicably).
THE LETTER ...
(Via: S.C. Attorney General)
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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