South Carolina Supreme Court orders Jeroid Price back to prison

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Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 4:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered a convicted murderer back to prison after he was released 16 years early.

The 3-2 decision from the South Carolina Supreme Court came down Wednesday, roughly two hours after a hearing about the release.

Justices John Kittredge, John Few, and D. Garrison Hill signed the order. Chief Justice Donald Beatty and Justice George James dissented.

Jeroid Price was sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing college football player Carl Smalls, Jr. in 2002.

In December 2022, Former Richland County Judge Casey Manning signed and sealed an order cutting Price’s sentence to 19 years.

Price was released in March 2023.

The order came under intense criticism this month over its secrecy, questions about court procedure, and arguments the law wasn’t followed.

Wilson had requested the S.C. Supreme Court void the order and issue a bench warrant for Price’s arrest.

The Supreme Court’s order doesn’t provide any legal arguments but vacates Manning’s order and instructs law enforcement to “immediately take custody” of Price.

WIS has reached out to defense attorney Todd Rutherford about Price’s whereabouts and any potential surrender.

Attorney General Alan Wilson released a statement after the ruling:

“We’re pleased the Court heard our request with such urgency and agreed that Jeroid Price’s release was unlawful and that he should be remanded back to the Department of Corrections immediately. Secret orders and backroom deals have no place in our justice system. I hope this sends a clear message to the people of South Carolina: our procedures matter and no one is above the law.”

WIS also reached out to a spokesperson with the South Carolina Department of Corrections. As of this writing, she said the SCDC did not have custody of Price but would announce when that changed.

Wilson represented the state in the hearing.

Justices grilled him on whether the court had the authority to rule on the case, citing 5th Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson’s role in getting the order approved.

Chief Justice Donald Beatty said the solicitor is a representative of the Attorney General’s office.

“[Gipson] consented to this matter, how is it you have the authority or the right to come in and complain about it?” Beatty asked.

Wilson argued the jurisdictional requirements for moving on the order were not met and asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

Gipson’s office has not returned a request for comment.

Rutherford argued the order was lawful and needed to help keep Price safe, as he provided information that led to the recapture of an escaped inmate.

“I think that honestly that, sending it back and sending Mr. Price back to the Department of Corrections is like ordering a death sentence on him,” he said.

WIS reached out to the Smalls family for comment.

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