New court date set for ‘slab’ murder suspect

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – A jury trial for an 18-year-old Alabaster resident who is facing a murder charge in the 2015 baseball bat beating of a 19-year-old victim is now scheduled for mid-August rather than mid-June, according to Shelby County Circuit Court documents.

Blackerby

On May 1, Circuit Court Judge Hewitt Conwill agreed to move the jury trial date for Alabaster resident Eric Matthew Blackerby from Monday, June 12, to Monday, Aug. 14, at the request of Blackerby’s recently retained attorney, Erskine Mathis. The Aug. 14 trial is set to begin at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 6 of the Shelby County Courthouse.

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.”