Judge denies bond for Jemison man charged with wife’s murder

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Chilton County judge rescheduled a preliminary hearing for a Jemison man accused of killing his wife during a dispute that rocked Jemison in April.

Chilton County District Judge Rhonda Hardesty rescheduled the hearing for May 26 at 9 a.m. for Eric Heath Price, 25, who has been charged with murder in the shooting death of his wife, Leaj Jarvis Price.

After the defense attorney notified Hardesty that the prosecution had a big discovery regarding the case, the judge continued the preliminary hearing.

Price’s preliminary hearing was originally scheduled for Tuesday morning at the Chilton County Courthouse, but Price did not appear before Hardesty in the courtroom.

Price’s attorney filed a motion requesting a bond be set for Price due to his family ties in the community, the couple’s child and no prior criminal record, but prosecutors argued Price should remain in jail with no bond.

“We would argue that due to the heinous crime and the pre-meditation involved that he is a danger to the community and to himself,” said Assistant District Attorney with the 19th Judicial Circuit Dan Cowell said.

Defense attorney Robert Bowers Jr. also requested Hardesty put a gag order on the case to prevent further discussions with media and social media chatter.

“I think there has already been enough said in the case, and I believe the less said, the better,” Bowers said. “If this case heads to trial, it will be difficult enough as it is to find a jury in this small town.”

Hardesty said Bowers had a valid point with the substantial attention given to the case and the concern of poisoning a potential jury pool with details of the case, but Hardesty said she was not inclined to issue a full gag order.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hardesty filed an order denying the request to set a bond citing the nature of the offense charged, the probability of convictions, the likelihood of lengthy sentence and the type of weapon used, a firearm, in the crime, according to court records.

However, there was no order filed regarding a gag order.

Price allegedly shot Leaj Marie Jarvis Price April 13 at Jemison Internal Medicine, a doctor’s office near the couple’s residence, as she tried to escape him.

In addition to the murder charge, which carries a punishment of 10 years to life in prison, Price also faces three charges of making terrorist threats.

The three charges of making terrorist threats stem from Price pointing a gun at three different people in the doctor’s office during the incident, including a doctor.

At the preliminary hearing scheduled for May 26, Price will have the option to waive his case to be heard by a grand jury, which meets each year in Chilton County in February and August.