Convicted felons from Rock Hill, including one with drug convictions spanning back to when he was a teenager, and another who had a weapon in prison in May, are involved in recent prison deaths in South Carolina’s Department of Corrections, court records show.
The deaths have forced prison lockdowns and led to concern from some about whether gangs are involved.
On Thursday at Lieber prison in Dorchester County, near Charleston, Michael Jerome Brice, 34, in prison for the third time for dealing drugs, had what prison officials are calling an altercation with his cellmate. The cellmate, Ryan Mansfield, died and prison officials are investigating the death.
Brice, serving a 13-year sentence for dealing crack cocaine, weapons charges and other crimes, has been in trouble with the law since he was 17 years old, court records show. In 1999, Brice was sentenced to five years in prison for dealing crack. He was arrested for marijuana possession while out on bond before going to prison, State Law Enforcement Division and York County Clerk of Court records show.
By 2002, Brice was released from prison but was arrested again on drug charges in late 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he was convicted of multiple drug and weapons charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After his release, Brice was arrested again in 2013 and 2014 for crimes including alleged dog fighting of pit bulls, but the dog fighting charges were later dismissed for lack of evidence, according to York County court records.
Brice was arrested again in 2015 for dealing 30 grams of crack, having two handguns, and other crimes. He pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced to 13 years in prison in a plea deal.
In all the drug arrests, Brice was charged by York County’s drug enforcement unit, court records show. Unit supervisor Marvin Brown said Friday that Brice was most recently caught and convicted of selling drugs near Finley Road Elementary School in Rock Hill.
In prison in the past few months Brice was disciplined for fighting with another inmate before the death of his cellmate.
Prisons spokesperson Stephanie Givens said Friday that Mansfield’s death remains under review. Officials with the Dorchester County Coroner’s Office said Friday they are waiting for autopsy results to determine the cause and manner of Mansfield’s death.
Earlier this week, Michael Wylie Jr., 27, was one of three inmates at Lee prison in Bishopville charged with the June 22 stabbing death of another inmate. Wylie is serving a 16-year prison term after pleading under North Carolina versus Alford – accepting punishment while not admitting guilt – to attempted murder, conspiracy, weapons and armed robbery charges for a 2012 shooting in Rock Hill that police said at the time was a drug deal gone bad.
Before that, in 2009, Wylie was convicted of dealing drugs near a school, and received a three-year suspended sentence, court records show.
Wylie was disciplined in May for possession of a weapon while in prison, corrections records show, and has four other disciplinary infractions since 2014 in prison that include multiple attempts to have a cellphone in prison.