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Jemison murder suspect to undergo mental exam

The Jemison man accused of killing his wife during a dispute in April will undergo a psychological examination.

Eric Heath Price, 26, faces one charge of murder in the shooting death of his wife, Leaj Jarvis Price, and three charges of making terrorist threats.

Price was scheduled to have a plea hearing at the end of October, but the hearing was rescheduled until March 9, 2016, according to court records.

Chilton County Circuit Judge Ben A. Fuller filed an order for Price to undergo an examination by a certified forensic examiner appointed by the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and certified to conduct clinical evaluations of competency to stand trial, and Price’s mental state at the time of the offense or offenses pending against him.

The order states that the examination should be made on an outpatient basis by a certified forensic examiner at a time and place designated by the examiner.

The district attorney should make available to the examining clinician information concerning the nature and circumstances of the offense charged as well as the prior criminal history of Price, according to the order.

Counsel for Price shall also provide information to assist the clinician in the evaluation of Price’s mental condition.

After the examination, Fuller ordered a written report be submitted to the court concerning Price’s mental condition.

The order states that further criminal proceedings against Price are pending until the report comes back from the Alabama Department of Mental Heath and Retardation.

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

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.

Price was indicted by an August grand jury in Chilton County.

Price remains in jail without a bond after Chilton County District Judge Rhonda Hardesty filed an order May 5 citing the nature of the offense charged, the probability of convictions, the likelihood of a lengthy sentence and the type of weapon used in the crime, a firearm, as reasons a bond would not be set in the case.

After the shooting at Jemison Internal Medicine, located off U.S. Highway 31 in Jemison, Price returned to the nearby home he shared with Leaj Price and barricaded himself inside, leading to a lengthy standoff with police.

Authorities said at the time of the incident that the suspect and victim had been involved in a domestic altercation that led Leaj Price to the doctor’s office asking for help.

While she was standing in the lobby with witnesses, Price entered with a firearm in hand and approached Leaj Price. After words were exchanged, Price allegedly fired a single shot, striking the victim.

No one else in or around the area was harmed. The doctor’s office staff immediately locked themselves in a back room until the office was secured by law enforcement.

Agencies including the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office, Jemison Police Department, Thorsby Police Department, Clanton Police Department, Alabama State Troopers, State of Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals responded to the incident.

If convicted, the murder charge carries a punishment of 10 years to life in prison.