In-custody death of Greene County man devastates family

The insignia of the Greene County Sheriff's Dept. Photo by Stan Morris

Paragould, Ark. – Julian Jones was devastated when her father was convicted of a felony and sentenced to ten years in prison for possessing the herbal extract “kratom,” but she told herself she would see him again.

“When they said they were going to take my dad, I was already hurting,” Jones told NEA Report. “I thought I would at least get to see him again.”

Tragically, she will not. Julian received a phone call at 3 AM Thursday telling her that her father, who was still in custody, was dead.

“My knees hit the floor and I just started having a panic attack,” Jones said.

Marshall Ray Price, 46, died while in custody of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department and its current sheriff, Steve Franks. The sheriff confirmed the news to NEA Report by email on Friday.

“Mr. Price was taken to the hospital and passed away several hours later,” Franks wrote.

Franks’ wording left vague whether Price was in custody. NEA Report confirmed in a second email that Price was in custody, Franks said.

Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler confirmed an investigation had been opened at the request of local authorities.

There is an active ongoing criminal investigation underway at the request of local authorities. While agents are continuing their work, they are awaiting a formal ruling by the state medical examiner as to the manner and cause of death.

Upon completion of the investigation, the case file will be submitted to the Greene County prosecuting attorney for review and consideration.

-Bill Sadler, Arkansas State Police

Family members of Price were devastated and at the same time, furious. His daughter, Julian Jones, fought back tears as she spoke to a reporter on Friday.

“I got a call about 3 AM Thursday morning that he had died,” Jones said. “I came to Paragould to the hospital. When I arrived, the coroner had said they had already called the Arkansas State Police. My dad had a skull fracture, broken ribs, busted spleen, and his brain was swelling which led him into cardiac arrest. They wouldn’t let us see his body at all and they said it was a crime scene and sent it to Little Rock.”

The family plans on seeking all possible legal remedies for what has taken place. But there are still many questions about what happened.

Jones said her understanding was that her dad wasn’t taken to the emergency room until 5 PM Wednesday – hours after he had been gravely injured. The sheriff’s statement said Price passed away several hours later at the hospital. But the family didn’t learn until into Thursday what was happening.

“We weren’t notified until 3 AM [Thursday],” Jones said. “And the doctor said he was wondering why no one was showing up.”

It is a tragic ending to an already emotional and taxing experience for her family. Jones was already in disbelief when her father was sentenced to a decade in prison for buying kratom – an herbal extract Arkansas lawmakers decided is a felony to possess, but most states have left unrestricted.


DEA: Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. Consumption of its leaves produces both stimulant effects (in low doses) and sedative effects (in high doses), and can lead to psychotic symptoms, and psychological and physiological dependence.


Jones said her father bought the kratom at a convenience store at the state line.

Kratom Attracts Investor Attention After Regulatory Win - Bloomberg

“I just never thought in my life…” Jones said, still in disbelief. “When they said they were going to take my dad, I was already hurting. I thought I would at least get to see him again.”

She was surprised that prosecutors would be enthusiastic to prosecute her father for the offense, but Prosecuting Attorney Keith L. Chrestman celebrated the verdict and sentence in a press release sent to all media outlets.

“Our communities won’t tolerate drug trafficking,” Chrestman said in a release. “I’m thankful for their hard work and willingness to serve.”

Chrestman did not reply to a request sent to his office for comment about the in-custody death of Price. He leaves office next year after serving out the remainder of an appointed term.

Meanwhile, the family hopes they can find answers – and justice. They’ve retained an attorney, Randall Miller of the Miller Law Firm in Jonesboro. They’re also hopeful that outside law enforcement agencies can provide answers about what happened to Price.

“I just feel devastated and I feel like Arkansas took something from me and my family,” Jones said. “I feel like they’ve ripped my dad away from us.”

Price. Source: Family

23 Comments

  1. This is whats wrong with the judicial system now days. CROOKED!!!!!😡😡😡This man went in with no injuries i assume? Why was his Family NOT NOTIFIED at the time he went to the hospital. And why wasnt he taken as soon as the injuries occurred?? I hope and pray this Family gets justice, and charges whoever is responsible with the Death Penalty. My prayers are with each of you. This saddens me to know we have officers of this kind that is suppose to protect and serve their people BUT DOESNT!!!! THIS IS PURE EVIL!!!!!!

  2. I was on heroine for 10 years.. And then I found kratom… Now I’m a business owner, a home owner, I own 3 cars and life is worth living again.. And you’d people think I should be in jail because I’m not following big farma’s recommendation for getting sober.. In other words I’m not a slave to big pharma and using their opiates like suboxone… I found something else that’s natural that has completely turned my life around.. And according to police, I should be in jail.. And for what? A plant… A plant that has completely changed my life for the better… How about fuck you government!!!!!!

    • I’m so dam proud of you..keep living the clean life…that’s all my brother was trying to do..and his life was stolen..ty for your testimony..sheena

  3. Lies!!!! Inmates speak out about them just letting this man die!!! Justice for Marshall!

  4. For the record, kratom is not an extract. It sounds like the deceased was arrested with the powder, which consists of ground up dried leaves of a tree.
    It’s a shame that, though kratom has been studied by the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement, which found that the good it does for those who use it responsibly far outweighs any issues needing regulation — and yet, in Arkansas, a jail sentence of ten years can turn into a death sentence.
    This is very sad. Please read what real scientists have written about kratom. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has funded about ten Million dollars in grants for research because of the promise this plant shows as a safer, more affordable treatment for those who want to wean themselves OFF opioids, alcohol, and other drugs.
    Please read the other side to the kratom story here & listen to some of the testimonials: https://www.americankratom.org/science
    The FDA is a poor, prejudiced source for info on kratom. They have a vested interest in maintaining Big Pharma’s profit margins and, for that reason, they hate kratom and are eager to misinform the public about it.

    • I thank God for kratom.I was hooked on hyros from a surgery I had and couldn’t get off them because of the withdrawal symptoms. My doctor only wanted to keep giving them to me instead of helping me. A friend told me about kratom I went and got me some of the capsules and started taking them. Not only did they get me off the hydrocodone they even helped with my pain. They don’t make you high like pain pills do and they don’t impair your mind. Kratom was a God send to me because those hydrocodone were killing me. And to think this state put him in jail for this when they are legal in all other states,then turn around and murder him. What the heck people. It’s all about control. If big pharma can’t sell it to you at an outrageous price then you will go to jail for it. Our government has got out of control. I hope and pray the family gets justice. It’s just beyond wrong to jail a man for tree leaves then kill him for it.

  5. I can relate.my husband of 16 yes was found in black river no investigation and I was not allowed to see my husband at all,no one deserves to die in any kind of situation because of a past history/addiction.i live everyday with no closure

  6. So you basically put him in jail for a bottle of advil. Because Kratom to not a drug like meth or H. Are you kidding me? Sarah Huckabee Saunders needs to be in lightened on this murder by Police in her state. They all need to be responsible for murdering a Dad & Husband who legally bought Kratom for pain relief. Kratom saves lives. It’s just a plant & not mind altering like weed or meth. It saves people from opioid addiction. Sounds like the doctor in Arkansas was afraid his customers would be taken away so he deemed Kratom dangerous. Follow the money.

  7. Absolutely disgusting. Fuck Arkansas. Will never ever go to that backwards ass hillbilly police state. Kratom saves lives you fucking criminals… I’m sure big pharma is so proud. Fuck you.

  8. Pure evil these prosecutors that County Jail that County the whole good old boy draconian religious zealot fake conservatives over there in Greene County. This state claims to care about individual rights above everything else but look look at what they do. Is this not what a police state looks like?! I just hope that all these people those prosecutors get disbarred I hope everyone responsible gets put away forever and they need to legalize it now they need to stop the prohibition because look this man was taken from his family forever because of an innocuous herb that helps drug addicts get off of hard drugs and helps chronic pain patients not have to take addictive deadly opioids in the first place! I am really serious we need a huge Grassroots effort we need a huge letter writing campaign and we need to flood those prosecutor’s office with as much mail we need to fill their voice mail boxes completely full, we need to call him every moment of the day so that they cannot do regular business… honestly they need to be run out of town TO PUT IT MILDLY but that’s just me. Pure evil really the fact that they would call it “drug trafficking” they are INHUMAN MONSTERS over there seriously we need a Grassroots at for everyone who cares about individual rights personal freedom Ann the right to not be killed by your government needs to take this as a sounding call we need to get up and we need to get this stuff legalized and we need to get those people out of power. Please everybody donate to the legal fund because this has to end.

  9. Franks was not the integral person that he portrayed himself to be. He was not briefed or told the definition of nepotism. Or he just didn’t care because his department was outfitted with nepotism. Then he takes the federal money, does a smoothy to throw off the people so he could channel the lion share of the federal money from the jail to the sheriff’s department. What Sheriff’s department needs a $7-$8000 5th wheel dump trailer? What happened to the self-sustaining garden? The truth about the female that escaped from the transport van that was not equipped to transport any inmates. And the female was only handcuffed in the front. Why was she not placed in leg shackles too. (Something Franks failed to mention). Your fate was sealed when you began your witch-hunt against Robin Bellomy. Happens when people start asking serious questions. Questions that would incriminate several of your handpicked nepo-employee-os. Look up malfeasance along with the word audit. Enough for now because I like to save the best for last…

    • And I can almost guarantee that the body cams they are ‘required’ to wear, had a ‘technical issue’ meaning they will cover they’re ass to the end!

  10. Thank you all for your words of encouragement. Our 3 sons as well as his 2 daughters are without their dad. Devastated & lost to say the least with the death itself but even more so with a wrongful death & no answers yet. We need answers & a judicial system that will help not cover it up! We need all help we can get. Please & thank you all

  11. Hi Wendy, I am so heartbroken by not just Marshall’s completely avoidable death at the hands of Greene County, but at the absolutely intolerable, paternalistic actions of Keith Chrestman, Wesley Watts, and Alexia Butler, as well as the judge who passed the gratuitous and ridiculous sentence on a man who hurt no one, all because of an unfounded and groundless law that was only put in place due to one Dr. fearful of losing money, and the lack of any real research by the state of Arkansas. A law that causes deleterious effects to personal liberty and the ability of people to take control of their own health, and makes them criminals for something that is absolutely safe, effective, and legal in most of the US.
    I am a Neuropsychopharmacologist (MSc) and PhD of Pharmacology student, a long-time advocate and researcher of natural medicines, and have personally used Kratom for over a decade. I am part of a group of Kratom advocates that have closely followed Marshall’s case since the spring. I’m trying to organize a potent response to not just his murder, but also to Mr. Chrestman’s disgusting prosecution of him.
    If you were willing, I would like to speak with you about the entire ordeal, from his arrest until now, just to understand better how myself and the rest of the Kratom Advocate community can help your family, preserve the memory of Marshall, and prevent this from happening to anyone else’s loved one by helping overturn this noxious and untenable law. You can reach me through Twitter (as I’d prefer not to give me personal email or number on this forum), my handle is @n3uropharm.

    I will continue to pray for your family and keep you in my thoughts. The Kratom community won’t rest until all of these monsters are held accountable and punished for their actions, and people are again free to use Kratom in Arkansas. Have a blessed day.

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