Hearing set on teen murder suspect’s youthful offender request

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A Shelby County judge will determine in late October if he will grant youthful offender status to a 17-year-old Alabaster resident who is facing a murder charge in the 2015 beating death of a 19-year-old.

Blackerby

Blackerby

Eric Matthew Blackerby, who was indicted on one count of murder by a Shelby County grand jury in early November 2015, requested youthful offender status through his attorney on Jan. 4.

Blackerby originally was scheduled to appear in Shelby County Circuit Court in April and May, but his hearings were continued both times.

Blackerby is now scheduled to appear in the Shelby County Courthouse for a youthful offender status hearing on Oct. 21 at 9 a.m.

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, 2015. 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.

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.