HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Gov. Henry McMaster wants solicitors in South Carolina to run their cases by the attorney general if it involves reducing criminal sentencing.
The governor’s request to the state’s 16 solicitors comes after the release of Jeriod Price earlier this year.
Jimmy Richardson, the 15th Circuit Solicitor, said he has no issues with the governor’s request or working with Attorney General Alan Wilson. However, some of his peers argue McMaster doesn’t have the authority.
“When you give that power away, you’ve got to hope that everything stays on the status quo,” Richardson said.
In 2003, Price was sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing Carl Smalls Jr. But last year, a now-former Richland County judge reduced his sentence to 19 years. State law requires anyone found guilty of murder to serve a minimum of 30 years.
Because of Price’s case, McMaster asked Wilson to review and approve any cases that involve early criminal releases.
“It happens a good bit, and, you know, as long as you can explain it, I don’t mind explaining it to the AG or to anyone else,” Richardson said.
Richardson said not all of the 16 solicitors feel the same way about the governor’s request, saying that McMaster can’t actually enforce it.
“No more than the president would have the authority to order general council for the Department of Justice or FBI to do something,” he said.
Richardson added that it could be a concern in the future when new officials take office and could deny reducing a sentence. For now, though, Richardson said he’s already worked with Wilson on a request and that it went smoothly.
“So, we wrote him, told him exactly why we were doing what we were doing, and unless I hear something different, we’ll carry on with the trial,” he said.
Horry and Darlington County have both seen at least two cases where sentencing was reduced, including one involving a Hartsville man convicted of attempted murder. His sentence was reduced from 16 to 13 1/2 years.
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Adrianna Lawrence is a multimedia journalist at News13. Adrianna is originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and joined the News13 team in June 2023 after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 2023. Keep up with Adrianna on Instagram, Facebook, and X, formerly Twitter. You can also read more of her work, here.