Attorneys ask for lower bond for teen murder suspect

Published 3:26 pm Thursday, August 6, 2015

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – Defense attorneys have requested a District Court judge lower the bond for a 16-year-old suspect who is facing a murder charge tied to the July 30 death of 19-year-old William Neff.



Attorneys for Eric Matthew Blackerby, who is facing a murder charge after he allegedly killed 19-year-old William Neff during a “violent attack” with a baseball bat at an outdoor area known as “the slab” on July 30, filed a request on Aug. 5 requesting Blackerby’s bond be lowered from $500,000.

The suspect’s bond was set higher than normal as the result of a request by the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, which claimed Blackerby has “a propensity for violence and is a danger to the public at large.”

In the request to lower the bond, Blackerby’s attorneys, Lara and Barry Alvis, said Blackerby has no previous criminal history, and would not be a flight risk if he was released from the Shelby County Jail.

The Alvises claimed the $500,000 bond “far exceeds the financial ability of the defendant to post bond in this matter,” and said the defendant and his family are “long-term resident(s) of Shelby County and own property in Shelby County.”

The attorneys said “murder is the most serious charge the defendant could be charged with,” and claimed the suspect’s charges should be sent to juvenile court.

“The facts tend to show more of a reckless conduct more consistent with manslaughter, which would mandate this defendant be (tried) in juvenile court,” read the request.

Shelby County District Court Judge Dan Reeves denied the defense attorneys’ request for a lower bond, citing a procedural error in the way the request was filed in the court system. Reeves asked the attorneys to re-file the bond reduction request correctly.

If the bond reduction request is re-filed, Reeves will set a future court hearing to consider the request.

Blackerby is set to appear in the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 8:30 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office arrested Blackerby, who lists an address on Shelby County 17 in Alabaster, and originally charged him with one felony count of first-degree assault. The charge was upgraded to murder after Neff died on July 31, and Blackerby is being charged as an adult in the case.

At the time of Blackerby’s arrest, SCSO Lt. Clay Hammac said deputies received a call reporting a victim had been taken to Shelby Baptist Medical Center with severe injuries at about 1:40 a.m. on July 29 following an altercation at the area commonly known as “the slab” in western Shelby County near West Blocton. Neff initially was treated at Shelby Baptist before he was transported to Princeton Baptist.

Hammac said SCSO investigators interviewed witnesses who saw the fight, and used the information to identify Blackerby as a suspect. The cause of the altercation is still under investigation by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

Murder is a Class A felony, and is punishable by up to life in prison upon conviction.