Price sentenced to 40 years for murder

Published 12:27 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2016

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The man who pleaded guilty to shooting his wife to death inside a Jemison doctor’s office in April 2015 was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison.

Eric Heath Price was sentenced by Judge Ben A. Fuller at the Chilton County Courthouse for the murder of Leaj Jarvis Price.

C.J. Robinson with the Office of District Attorney Randall Houston said prosecutors preferred the 40-year sentence over a “life” sentence, which in Alabama can be calculated to a shorter time period.

“That’s why we picked that number,” Robinson said.

Eric Heath Price, 27, appeared in front of Fuller in an orange jumpsuit, bound at the wrists and ankles, along with several other inmates and non-incarcerated suspects for a court docket heavy on sentencings.

Price was given the opportunity to address the court and asked that the judge take his military service into consideration.

Robinson gave Fuller a summary of the facts of the case.

“He chased Leaj from their home about 100 yards to a doctor’s office,” Robinson said. “He entered that office with a firearm threatening to kill her. Three different people tried to intervene, and he threatened all of them.

“He told everyone in the office that if they didn’t want to be witnesses, to move to the back of the office. Then he executed his ex-wife right there in the doctor’s office.”

After the shooting, Price fled back to the home he shared with Leaj Price, who was 24 at the time of the shooting, and barricaded himself inside as about 150 law enforcement officers from across the area responded to the scene and eventually took him into custody.

Price originally faced three charges of making terrorist threats related to threatening bystanders at the doctor’s office, but those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement in which Price changed his plea from not guilty to guilty.

Robinson told the court that Price has made only two statements about the incident: telling an emergency responder while he was being transported to a hospital that Leaj Price had “got what she deserved,” and telling police during an interview that she had ruined his life.

Leaj Price’s mother and stepfather both addressed Fuller at the sentencing on Wednesday.

Robinson said he appreciated the support of Leaj Price’s family throughout the ordeal.

“These cases are all difficult, and sometimes the family handles it differently,” Robinson said. “They have been as good to work with as you can be.”