Crime & Courts

South Carolina Appeals Court Denies Jeroid Price’s Petition

Convicted murderer, gang leader not getting a new trial …

South Carolina’s court of appeals has denied the petition of a convicted murderer prematurely released from incarceration last spring by retiring circuit court judge Casey Manning. Gang leader Jeroid J. Price had served 19 years of his 35-year “mandatory minimum” prison sentence when Manning released him via a sealed order at the request of powerful lawyer-legislator Todd Rutherford.

This shady, backroom deal was exclusively exposed by this media outlet, and the ensuing uproar revived calls for reform of South Carolina’s badly broken judicial system.

After the state supreme court vacated Manning’s extra-legal, unconstitutional directive, Price was apprehended 78 days later and returned to the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC).

Price was convicted of murder in 2003 for the gang-related nightclub shooting of Carl Smalls – a football player at the University of North Carolina. The shooting occurred at Club Voodoo in Columbia on December 7, 2002. Price, a street leader of the Bloods gang, claimed Smalls was a rival gang member – and that he disrespected Price on the dance floor.

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After the club closed that night, Price – who claimed to be assisting with security – stood guard while money was counted. He was armed with a .40 caliber pistol.

Observing him nearby, Price rushed Smalls and a struggle ensued in which Smalls allegedly grabbed Price’s gun. Smalls was shot three times. Ryan Brooks, co-defendant and one of Price’s fellow gang members, fired the first shot. Price subsequently shot Smalls two more times – killing him.

The jury found Price guilty of murder after one hour of deliberations.

Price’s petition for a writ of certiorari (i.e. a request for a higher court to review a lower court’s decision) was filed on July 20, 2022. It argued S.C. circuit court judge Diane Schafer-Goodstein erred when she denied his request for a new trial in a hearing for post-conviction relief held on November 12, 2019. At that hearing, Price claimed he acted out of self-defense in killing Smalls – a claim supported by the introduction of a new witness to the shooting.

(Click to View)

Jeriod J. Price (SCDC)

The petition contended the testimony of the new witness would have changed the outcome of the trial – and that the circuit court’s decision to deny post-conviction relief was an abuse of discretion.

Granting the petition would have allowed Price a hearing to review his claim – the first step in him potentially getting a new trial.

At the same time the petition was filed, Price’s attorney, Joanna Delany – an appellate defender with the South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense – filed a petition to be relieved as counsel. Delany said the appeal was “without legal merit sufficient to warrant new trial.”

The order filed on March 1, 2024 by the state appeals court agreed with Delany. It further noted that Price has not filed a pro se petition.

Price’s 35-year sentence for the murder of Smalls 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.

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THE ORDER …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (Provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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