Target 12

Cellmate: Craig Price thought he was being poisoned prior to prison attack

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Craig Price was convinced someone was poisoning the food that was delivered to his cell, and he thought he knew who it was.

Price, 45, and his cellmate, Branden Golden, had been sick for several days. In an interview with investigators, Golden admitted he and Price had used drugs while behind bars – including a synthetic they smoked called “K2” – but claimed it wasn’t the narcotics making them ill.

“We hadn’t smoked K2 in like two weeks,” Golden told investigators.

Price, convicted of stabbing four people to death in the Buttonwoods section of Warwick in the late 1980s, had been in the Florida prison system since 2004 because of his notoriety in Rhode Island. He was less than a year from release when he grew suspicious about who was responsible for his illness.

Price focused on another inmate, Joshua Davis, who worked as a “runaround” – another term for an orderly – and would deliver items to other inmates in the G-Dorm of the Suwannee Correctional Institution in Florida.

Golden told investigators Price was suspicious because both had been sick for several days.

“He’s been throwing up, not sleeping, cold sweats at night,” Davis said, according to transcripts. “And myself, my whole body was numb. He had to actually do CPR on me one night, on a Thursday night, to bring me back to life. And we hadn’t been doing no drugs.”

Golden said Price was very protective of him, claiming that “he looks at me as his little brother.”

The morning of the stabbing, Golden said Price told him, “I know who it is, it’s somebody close to you.”

Prison surveillance video from that day obtained by Target 12 shows Price dragging a wheelchair he uses to the cell used by Davis, who had just returned from the showers.

Davis told investigator Price was “stuttering and saying something about, ‘It was you, it was you right?'”

The video shows two other inmates walk near Price, as a correctional officer watches from a distance, and Price ran over and whispered something to one of them. According to transcripts from witness interviews, Price told one of them, “Don’t worry about it.”  (The other inmates all later claimed they had no idea what was about to go down.)

Suddenly Price lunges into Davis’s cell and starts stabbing him with what investigators say was a 4- to 5-inch homemade knife.

Davis said at one point he was able to grab Price’s hand holding the knife to slow the assault. Eventually Davis is seen scrambling away, but Price quickly catches up and jumps on top of him.

Two correctional officers were able to subdue Price, while Golden grabbed Davis and dragged him to safety. Golden told investigators he tossed Davis into a laundry cart and wheeled him away.

Davis was taken to the hospital with six stab wounds but survived.

Officers said when they were holding Price down, the convicted killer was screaming something about Davis being a federal agent.

Price’s court-appointed lawyer initially explored the possibility of using an insanity defense. Ultimately, Price pleaded guilty to attempted murder and contraband in a prison, and was sentenced to 25 years.

Under Florida law, Price will have to serve at least 80% of that sentence, or 21 years — meaning he will remain behind bars for at least two decades longer than he otherwise would have been.

Transcripts from the investigation show Price had medical issues and was given a wheelchair, though it is unclear what the underlying diagnosis was. However, Davis said he didn’t buy that Price needed the wheelchair in light of how well he moved during the attack.

“I know now that that's a game he's playing, some kind of medical game,” Davis said. “Because he obviously doesn't need that chair."

Correctional officers who witnessed the attack said they were surprised by Price’s actions.

“I ain't going to say he was a good inmate, but he was for the most part a decent inmate,” Sgt. Bradley Luke told investigators. “[He] didn't cause no problems or nothing. He was very out of the norm for his character this morning."

Davis said officers were intimidated by the 320-pound Price, partly because they knew he was an accomplished martial artist.

“They gave him a wide birth,” he said.

Davis said he was also surprised by the attack. He described Price as relatively polite to other inmates in the dorm, which was a section designated for inmates under higher scrutiny due to past problems or the violent nature of their sentence.

"I would describe him as socially active with his friends, and he studied Hebrew Israelites, the religion,” Davis said. “So amongst them, very social. But not too much with everybody.”

Davis said he recalled one time when Price became particularly agitated and guards had to calm him down: when Price learned he had lost some of his so-called "good time" credit, extending his sentence.

That occurred after a Target 12 investigation revealed that R.I. Department of Corrections had failed to strip Price of some of his good time after he attacked a correctional officer.

"One of the reasons he did get upset was because he was actually supposed to leave last year, and then something happened with Rhode Island where they actually were not giving him part of his gain time or something,” Davis said. “He was actually preparing to leave, and then when they told him, ‘No, you're not leaving.’”

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook


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