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Murder defendant switches plea to guilty

The man accused of shooting his wife to death inside a Jemison doctor’s office in April 2015 pleaded guilty on Monday.

A trial of Eric Heath Price was scheduled to begin Monday at the Chilton County Courthouse. Instead, Price appeared before Judge Ben Fuller, withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a guilty plea for murder, a Class A felony, in the death of Leaj Jarvis Price.

The plea deal recommends Eric Heath Price receive 40 years in prison.

C.J. Robinson with the Office of District Attorney Randall Houston said prosecutors consider 40 years comparable to most “life” sentences, and that a hard number for the sentence was desired.

“Today was an important day for the victim’s family,” Robinson said. “My heart goes out to them, and I thank them for being very involved with the DA’s office for the last year. This was not an easy decision, and I deeply appreciate their overwhelming support.”

Along with the plea, prosecutors agreed to drop three charges of making terrorist threats, which stemmed from Price pointing the gun he used to shoot his wife at three other people inside Jemison Internal Medicine.

Leaj Jarvis Price entered Jemison Internal Medicine, which was close to the couple’s residence, as she tried to escape her husband.

Eric Heath Price appeared before Fuller wearing a pink jail jumpsuit and bound at his wrists and ankles.

Sentencing for Price is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 11.