Youthful status denied for ‘Slab’ murder suspect
Published 12:38 pm Thursday, December 29, 2016
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
COLUMBIANA – A Shelby County Circuit Court judge on Dec. 29 denied youthful offender status for an Alabaster teen who is facing a murder charge tied to the 2015 baseball bat beating death of a 19-year-old victim.
Circuit Court Judge Hewitt “Sonny” Conwill issued the order about 20 days after a youthful offender status hearing for 17-year-old Alabaster resident Eric Matthew Blackerby. During the hearing, defense attorneys and prosecutors presented arguments for and against Blackerby being granted 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, 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.
Blackerby was indicted on the murder charge by a Shelby County grand jury in early November 2015.
Because he will be tried as an adult, Blackerby could face up to life in prison if convicted. If he had received youthful offender status, his maximum sentence would have been three years in prison.
In his Dec. 29 order, Conwill said he denied Blackerby’s youthful offender status because Blackerby allegedly “used a massive amount of force in an attack against a helpless victim.”
During the youthful offender status hearing in early December, witnesses testified Eric Blackerby was present at “the slab” on July 29, 2015, when his older brother, Andrew, got into a fight with Neff.
Witnesses testified Andrew Blackerby was on top of Neff hitting him when “Eric Blackerby approached and then hit Neff in the head with a baseball bat with a great amount of force” multiple times.
In a report prepared by the Alabama Department of Pardons and Paroles for the youthful offender status hearing, an officer wrote “Blackerby has yet to grasp the concept that actions have consequences and he does not think before he speaks or acts.
“This unfortunate tragedy could have been avoided given that the fight did not involved (sic) Blackerby at all,” read the report. “He willingly placed himself in the situation and does not appear to have any remorse.”