Sentencing delayed for teen murder convict

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – The sentencing hearing for an 18-year-old Alabaster man who has been found guilty of killing another teen with a baseball bat has been delayed by a few weeks, according to scheduling documents in Shelby County Circuit Court.

Blackerby

On Sept. 6, Circuit Court Judge William Bostick reset the sentencing date for Eric Matthew Blackerby from Sept. 11 to Sept. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom No. 5 at the Shelby County Courthouse. The order does not list a reason for the continuance.

A jury found Blackerby guilty of murder on Aug. 17 after a three-day trial in Shelby County Circuit Court.

Blackerby, who lists an address on Shelby County 17 in Alabaster, was charged with the murder after killing 19-year-old William Neff during a “violent attack” with an aluminum baseball bat at an outdoor area known as “the slab” in northwestern Shelby County on July 29, 2015. Before the trial, the suspect had been out of jail since Nov. 17, 2015, when 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 was tried as an adult, Blackerby could face up to life in prison when he faces sentencing on Sept. 26.

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

During the youthful offender status hearing in early December 2016, 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.”