Teen murder suspect seeks youthful offender status
Published 2:54 pm Monday, January 4, 2016
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
COLUMBIANA – A 16-year-old Alabaster resident who has been charged with the baseball bat beating death of a 19-year-old is seeking youthful offender status for the murder charge pending against him.
Eric Matthew Blackerby, who was indicted on one count of murder by a Shelby County grand jury in early November, requested youthful offender status through his attorney on Jan. 4.
Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Dan Reeves set a hearing for 8:30 a.m. on April 25 to make a decision on Blackerby’s request for youthful offender status.
Blackerby was charged with murder 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 29. The suspect was released from the Shelby County Jail on Nov. 17, 2015, after a relative put up property as collateral to cover Blackerby’s $500,000 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 has been 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.
If Blackerby is convicted as an adult, he could face up to life in prison. If he is granted youthful offender status, he will waive his right to a jury trial, and will allow Reeves to determine his guilt or innocence.
Court records for suspects granted youthful offender status are sealed, and are no longer public record. Suspects adjudicated as youthful offenders are not considered convicted felons, and have none of their rights or privileges forfeited, according to court documents.
The maximum sentence for suspects granted youthful offender status is three years in prison.