Judge did not have authority to grant killer’s early release, SC Supreme Court says
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A convicted killer will spend the rest of his sentence behind bars after the South Carolina Supreme Court vacated an order from a circuit court that granted him an early release.
Jeroid Price was convicted of the murder of Carl Smalls in 2003 and sentenced to 35 years in prison. He was released in March 2023 after serving 19 of the 35 years.
In December 2022, Circuit Court Judge L. Casey Manning signed an order that paved the way for Price’s early release. That order remained under seal until April 2023 when the order reducing Price’s sentence was unsealed and entered into the public index for the first time.
In the opinion filed by Justice John Cannon Few, he said the court did not have the authority to reduce Price’s sentence because they did not comply with any requirements from applicable statutes.
“The circuit court did not have the authority to close the proceedings to the public or seal the order,” Few said.
Few’s opinion addresses the four questions the attorney general’s office office the court to review.
The court sided with the state in that the circuit court had no authority to reduce Price’s sentence when a written motion was never filed.
The court also said the circuit court did not have the authority to close the proceedings to the public or seal the order.
Few said that by not complying with the requirements for a sentence reduction Manning “committed multiple errors of law and acted outside of his authority.”
In his dissent, Justice George James, Jr. said the state was using the court to untangle an “unfortunate state of affairs” the state created with the sentence reduction.
“We should not permit the State to resort to the judicial branch for relief from the State’s own poor choices, as embarrassing as they may be for the State,” James said.
James argued that the attorney general’s office does not have the authority to get involved with a sentence reduction since it is not a criminal prosecution.
“Allowing the Attorney General to appear at this stage not only ignores the fact that a sentence-reduction proceeding is not a criminal prosecution, but it also diminishes the ‘strong measure of independence’ enjoyed by elected solicitors,” James said.
Price was captured in New York in July, more than two months after he was ordered to return to prison.
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