A Shelby man accused of killing an 11-year-old girl in 1966 has died before he could stand trial.
Thurman “Soupy” Price, 83, died Saturday at Cleveland Regional Medical Center, according to his attorney, David Teddy.
In 2010, a judge ruled that a death-bed confession was admissible in the 1966 murder of Brenda Sue Brown of Shelby. The ruling cleared the way to put Price on trial in the case.
Price was arrested in 2007 and charged with first-degree murder after Lori Lail said her grandfather, who was dying of cancer, told her that he and Price had attacked and planned to rape Brenda.
Lail said her grandfather, Earl Parker, told her in 2002 that Price hit the girl with a rock and killed her after she struggled. Her naked body was found later in the woods.
In 2010, Lail testified in court that her grandfather died shortly after his confession. She didn’t come forward until 2006, after a newspaper series on Brenda’s killing in The Shelby Star.
Price, who was free on bond awaiting trial, had health problems and was in and out of the hospital.
His attorney on Tuesday said his client “maintained his innocence” until the end. David Teddy said Price was anxious to move forward with the trial and clear his name. A trial date had not been set.
“The state would have had difficulty proving this case,” Teddy said. “Through the years, evidence has been destroyed or lost. I don’t think a jury trial would have resulted in a guilty verdict.”
But even if Price had gotten off, Teddy said, the publicity surrounding the case had already “convinced some people he was guilty. They would not accept acquittal.”
But like any defendant facing trial, Teddy said, Price should be presumed innocent.
“In this case,” Teddy said, “he carried that presumption with him to the grave.”