Teen murder suspect undergoing mental evaluation

Published 3:03 pm Thursday, October 15, 2015

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A Shelby County Circuit Court judge has agreed to allow a mental health examiner to have access to a 16-year-old Alabaster resident who is being held in the Shelby County Jail on a murder charge.



Alabaster teen Eric Matthew Blackerby is facing a murder charge after police said he allegedly killed 19-year-old William Neff during a “violent attack” with an aluminum baseball bat at an outdoor area known as “the slab” on July 30.

On Oct. 12, Blackerby’s attorney, Barry Alvis, filed a motion to allow mental health examiner Dr. John Goff to have access to Blackerby for a mental evaluation at the Shelby County Jail, where the suspect has remained since his arrest. Circuit Court Judge Dan Reeves agreed on Oct. 13 to allow Goff to have access to Blackerby in the jail “at all reasonable times and duration to evaluate” the suspect.

Reeves’ order came a little less than two months after Blackerby, along with several members of the Blackerby and Neff families, appeared in court for a hearing on possibly lowering the suspect’s $500,000 bond. Reeves has not yet made a decision on lowering Blackerby’s bond.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office arrested Blackerby on July 30 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 after an altercation at the area commonly known as “the slab” in western Shelby County near West Blocton.

Hammac said SCSO investigators interviewed witnesses who saw the fight and used the information to identify Blackerby as a suspect.