Craig Price set to go to trial in January in prison assault case

Florida Sheriff's photo of Craig Price

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Notorious Rhode Island serial killer Craig Price is set to face trial in January after allegedly attacking a fellow inmate with a homemade weapon in Florida earlier this year.

Price, 44, is facing one count each of attempted murder and contraband in prison. Prosecutors say he wielded a five-inch homemade knife when he attacked a fellow inmate at Suwannee Correctional Institution in Florida on April 4.

The victim, Joshua Davis, was repeatedly stabbed in a “premeditated design” and with “intent to kill,” according to court documents.

A legal assistant for the 3rd Circuit State Attorney’s Office in Live Oak, Florida said a trial date was set for January 29 at a hearing on Thursday. The trial is expected to last one week.

A call to Price’s attorney – public defender Elise Yates – was not immediately returned.

Price was 15 years old when he admitted he stabbed to death 39-year-old Joan Heaton and her two daughters, 10-year-old Jennifer and 8-year-old Melissa, in 1989. He then confessed to the murder of 27-year-old Rebecca Spencer two years earlier.

He was sent to Florida in 2004 as part of an interstate compact because the R.I. Department of Corrections deemed him a security risk to himself and others at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston.

Price’s Rhode Island sentence was set to expire this month, but he would then have to serve an additional two-and-a-half years in Florida for stabbing a prison guard there in 2009.

Price is not behind bars for the murders in the 1980s, because he was a juvenile when the crimes took place. State law at the time meant he would be released from prison when he turned 21; those laws have since been changed. Instead Price is serving time for a patchwork of infractions including contempt of court and other incidents stemming from his time behind bars.

The newest case against Price could be significant because the clock is ticking on his release: including his sentence in Rhode Island as well as the 2009 Florida assault, Price is scheduled to be a free man in 2020.

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