After being convicted in a 2013 drunk-driving crash that killed his 1-year-old son, Jeremiah Price told a Jefferson Parish judge on Wednesday that he has already suffered the worst sentence imaginable.
“There’s not a minute, day or hour that I don’t think about my son,” Price told 24th Judicial District Court Judge E. Adrian Adams in Gretna. “It’s the most tragic thing you can lose.”
Price and his attorney, Eddie Jordan, then asked Adams to consider the most lenient punishment allowed under the law.
The judge decided he had to send the 32-year-old Marrero man to prison for no less than five years, as required under a section of Louisiana law that mandates a five-year sentence for anyone convicted of committing a vehicular homicide while driving with a blood-alcohol level of .15 percent or higher.
As a first-time offender, Price could be eligible for early release for good behavior, but he also was ordered to serve five years’ probation after getting out of prison and pay a $2,000 fine.
A six-person jury this month found Price guilty in the Oct. 21, 2013, crash that killed his toddler, Jashawn Price. Jeremiah Price registered a blood-alcohol level of .175 percent — more than twice the legal limit of .08 — after the wreck, according to prosecutors.
On the morning of the crash, Price was driving a 2002 Hyundai sedan on the elevated West Bank Expressway near Terrytown when he neared a section that the state had shut down to install signs. Traffic was being directed off the expressway to an adjacent, ground-level road, but authorities said Price ignored multiple closure signs and plowed through barrels blocking the work area.
Price slammed into a construction vehicle near Stumpf Boulevard. Jashawn, who was not buckled into a child safety seat, suffered severe head injuries during the crash and later died at West Jefferson Medical Center.
Price was arrested after receiving treatment for minor injuries.
During his trial, Price admitted he had been drinking that day but denied that alcohol was a factor in the deadly wreck. He said the work zone where he wrecked his car was poorly lit and that he actually had buckled his baby up in the back seat, despite authorities’ claims to the contrary.
At the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Rachel Africk said it was insulting for the defendant to suggest he was worthy of leniency because the victim was his baby.
“How in the world is it better to kill your own son?” Africk said after Price and Jordan addressed Adams. “Jashawn Price ... didn’t die a natural death. His father killed him.”
Jordan, who formerly served as U.S. attorney and Orleans Parish district attorney, mentioned that several members of the Price family had written to the court pleading for the judge to be merciful. He motioned toward a crowd of people supporting Price who had packed one side of the courtroom gallery.
“Jeremiah Price has a number of family members who truly believe this was a singular mistake,” Jordan said. “(It was) a very serious mistake — but something that wasn’t characteristic.”