Monday, April 29, 2002

Murder suspect surrenders

Prichard in Mich. jail

By Jennifer Edwards,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SILVER GROVE — A day after his mother publicly pleaded for him to surrender, the Silver Grove man wanted for his longtime girlfriend's shooting death turned himself into Michigan authorities.

        James “J.C.” Prichard, 22, was charged with murder Sunday and was being held at the Schoolcraft County jail in upper Michigan near the Lake Superior shore, Campbell County Police said.

        Michigan State Police took him into custody after he called them about 10:45 a.m. from a rural store about an hour from Schoolcraft County, said Campbell County Police Lt. Col. Keith Hill.

        Mr. Prichard's black 1989 Chevrolet Corsica was impounded as evidence and — if he doesn't fight it — he could be extradited to Kentucky this week.

        “I am just thankful he is alive,” said his mother, Pat Taylor, who lives three trailers down from her son in Silver Grove.

        She had feared he would commit suicide with the same rifle he may have used to kill Carrie Smalling — a .22-caliber shotgun he kept wrapped in a red and black blanket in the trunk of his car when he wasn't hunting with it.

        She spoke with her son when he called her from jail late Sunday and said he was “hysterical.”

        “He cried the whole time I talked to him,” Ms. Taylor said. “He cannot believe he did this. He said, "Mom, I loved her. How can I do this? How can I kill her? How can I do that?'”

        Ms. Taylor and Campbell County police have said Mr. Prichard confessed to his mother that he fatally shot Ms. Smalling, 21, early Saturday.

        The shooting erupted sometime during the 45-minute drive back to the couple's home after a night of playing cards and watching movies at a friend's Williamsburg, Ohio, home, Ms. Taylor said.

        The couple began dating when they were young teen-agers, and they have a 3-year-old daughter. . But they split for a time when she dated his best friend and had a child by that friend, Ms. Taylor said.

        The motive for the shooting, however, wasn't clear Sunday night.

        “I asked him, "What happened? Was she saying bad things to you? Was she pushing your buttons?'” Ms. Taylor recalled. “He said, "Yes, she was pushing hard.' I said, "What, you went into a blackout and just snapped?' And he said, "Basically, yeah.'”

        Ms. Smalling's body was discovered Saturday along a secluded gravel road about 10 miles southeast of Cincinnati on the Ohio River. Campbell County Police said she had been shot twice.

        Her father, John Smalling of Newport, had the grim task of identifying his second-youngest daughter's body Saturday.

        He said he has had legal custody of the couple's daughter for the past two years until his daughter straightened her life out and could take care of her child.

        She had a second daughterabout four months ago with Mr. Prichard's best friend, Mr. Smalling and Ms. Taylor said. That child is residing with one of her father's relatives, they said.

        Mr. Smalling alleges his daughter and Mr. Prichard fought before her death Saturday because she intended to reunite with his best friend. But Ms. Taylor said she has spoken to the friend and he told her that couldn't be true because he has told Ms. Smalling he wouldn't get back together with her.

        Mr. Prichard's surrender was little comfort to Mr. Smalling.

        “Carrie was still young and had some maturing to do,” said Mr. Smalling. “After that, I"m sure she would have gone on with her life. She was a very intelligent and loving person.”

        The day she died, Ms. Smalling was to have her picture taken with her three other sisters and her nieces and nephews for a family portrait, Mr. Smalling said.

        “The last time I talked to her was Friday night. She said she would see me the next day. But she never did. I saw her but she didn't see me. You shouldn't have to bury a child.”


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