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Jeroid Price recaptured after running when deal cutting 16 years off murder sentence was revoked

Jeroid Price

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Police on Wednesday captured a man who had been on the run for 11 weeks after the South Carolina Supreme Court revoked an unannounced deal that cut 16 years off his 35-year murder sentence.

Jeroid Price was captured without violence at a New York City apartment after a tip to South Carolina investigators, the State Law Enforcement Division said in a statement. Additional details were not released.

Democratic state Rep. Todd Rutherford, who is Price's lawyer, and prosecutor Byron Gipson agreed to ask a judge to cut Price's sentence because he reported an escaped inmate serving a life sentence before the prisoner was missed and kept two guards from serious injuries during attacks. That is the only way a murder sentence can be reduced in South Carolina.

But no public hearing was held on the deal, and the state Supreme Court ruled 3-2 to revoke the order in April. Authorities ordered Price to return to jail immediately, but he spent 11 weeks on the run, authorities said.

“He was aware the Supreme Court had made its ruling,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said at a news conference Wednesday.

Price's release brought attention to the 2010 law allowing for prison sentences to be reduced when inmates provide information that protects the safety of prison employees and others.

The state Supreme Court promised to clarify rules and procedures for the law when they ordered Price back to prison on a 3-2 ruling on April 26, but justices have not released their order.

Justices said they didn’t like that the deal was kept secret, including from the parents of the man Price killed and the deputies who investigated the 2002 shooting death of Carl Smalls Jr. at a Columbia club.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Smalls' parents shouted with joy when he called to tell them their son's killer was back in police custody.

“The Smalls family has endured enough pain and they don’t want anymore victims to go through what they have,” Lott said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that so many resources were wasted on finding Price. Our criminal justice system has failed.”

The proceedings to let Price out early had to be kept secret because other prisoners would have tried to attack him if they knew he reported an escape and was helping guards, defense attorney Rutherford said.

Now Price is in danger because he has to go back to a prison system that couldn't guarantee his safety in the first place, said Rutherford, who told reporters he lost touch with his client before the court ruling sending him back to prison.

“It is good to know Jeroid Price is safe from those outside who seek to do him harm. Now he has to worry about those in government who continue to heap harm on him,” Rutherford said in a statement.

Wilson said the state Attorney General's Office is reviewing whether Price should face any charges for not turning himself in.

“Obviously he did not break out of prison. He was released legally but then he ran once the order releasing him was vacated,” Wilson said. “I want to look at this with our team and make a decision.”