Trial date set for ‘Slab’ murder suspect

Published 2:32 pm Thursday, April 6, 2017

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – An 18-year-old Alabaster resident who has been charged with the 2015 baseball bat beating of a 19-year-old victim is set to stand trial on a murder charge in mid-June, according to records filed in Shelby County Circuit Court.


On April 5, Circuit Court Judge Hewitt Conwill set the trial for Alabaster resident Eric Matthew Blackerby for Monday, June 12 “and each day thereafter” until it is resolved. Blackerby also must appear in court for a pretrial docket call on Monday, May 1, and for a plea date on Tuesday, May 23.

“No continuances will be granted except for extreme circumstances,” read Conwill’s order. “Should this case not be resolved by the end of the June 12, 2017, trial week, it shall be placed on a court’s trial docket of Monday, August 12, 2017, and given a priority setting.”

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.

Last year, Blackerby requested youthful offender status in the case, and was denied. If he had received youthful offender status, his maximum sentence would have been three years in prison.

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.”