Hearing set on sealed documents related to convicted SC killer’s early release

A Richland Co. judge is scheduled to hear the state attorney general’s request for documents to be unsealed related to the early release of a convicted killer.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 6:19 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 at 11:15 PM EDT
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RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge in Richland County is scheduled to hear the state attorney general’s request for documents to be unsealed related to the early release of a convicted killer.

A jury convicted Jeroid John Price of the 2002 killing of 22-year-old Carl Smalls, and Judge Reginald Lloyd sentenced him to 35 years behind bars, according to a State Supreme Court ruling. He appealed the conviction in 2006, but the ruling stood.

Despite this, the South Carolina Department of Corrections released Price on March 15, according to SCDC spokesperson Chysti Shain, after they received a court order. That is almost 16 years before he was set to finish his sentence.

Solicitor David Pascoe, the lead prosecutor of the Price case, says he was “outraged” when he heard the news of Price’s release. In the state of South Carolina, convicted killers must serve at least 30 years in prison, Pascoe explains.

In his career, Pascoe says he has never seen a sentence reduced without a hearing or a motion filed to do so. The order was signed by Judge Casey Manning, according to Pascoe. Manning is no longer listed on the active South Carolina Supreme court circuit court roster.

“Jeroid Price, one of the most dangerous criminals I ever prosecuted, is right now, out in the streets on unsupervised release because of a sealed order signed by a judge,” Pascoe says.

In a statement, 5th Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson says Price provided “significant” help to law enforcement.

While state law does require convicted killers to serve 30 years in prison, there is also another law that allows for reduced sentencing for an inmate who assists authorities.

The help led the solicitor’s office to choose to file a motion for a formal sentence reduction hearing for Price. Before that hearing could ever happen, Gipson claims an order was issued, which led to Price’s release.

“Therefore, no formal hearing took place where victims would have been afforded their statutory right to be present and voice their position,” Gipson’s statement reads. “For those reasons, 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 hopes an open hearing will ensure all parties have a voice.

During Price’s time served, he bounced from prison to prison, records from the SCDC show. He also had several disciplinary sanctions issued to him, including loss of visitation and telephone privileges, the records state.

When he was released, he had been serving his time at a prison in New Mexico.

“There is a reason he [Price] was in New Mexico and not South Carolina, it was because of his horrendous record while at the Department of Corrections,” Pascoe says.

Smalls, who is from the Charleston area, played football at the University of South Carolina, according to our sister station in Columbia. At the time of his death, he was playing for the University of North Carolina.

A fraternity was hosting a party on Dec. 6, 2002, at Club Voodoo in Columbia. During the party, there was a confrontation between rival gangs, the Bloods and Crips.

Price identified as a Blood, and Smalls identified as a Crip, according to the 2006 appeal.

After the party ended around 2 a.m., the two men ran into each other. According to testimony, Price reached towards his waist for a gun, at which point Smalls “rushed” Price.

The two men then struggled over the pistol. Eventually, the pistol was pointed toward Ryan Brooks, who was with Price. Brooks took out his gun and shot Smalls, the appeal states.

Brooks ran out of the club but heard more gunshots on the way out. A witness says Price continued to shoot Smalls, despite him not having a gun.

Brooks was also charged with Smalls’ murder, the appeal documents state.

The hearing over the unsealing of the documents is set to start at 4 p.m.

Gipson’s entire statement is embedded below: