Teen convicted of baseball bat murder seeks new trial
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
COLUMBIANA – Attorneys for an 18-year-old Maylene man who was found guilty by a jury in August of killing a 19-year-old victim with a baseball bat in have asked for a new trial, claiming “numerous constitutional errors” were committed during his trial, and claiming his sentence of life in prison constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”
On Oct. 6, Samuel Holmes and Erskine Mathis, attorneys for Eric Matthew Blackerby, filed motions for a new trial for their client. The requests came a few weeks after Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Bill Bostick sentenced Blackerby to life in prison for killing William Neff during a “violent attack” with an aluminum baseball bat at “the slab” on July 29, 2015.
Witnesses previously testified Eric Blackerby’s brother, 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.”
Blackerby was indicted on the murder charge by a Shelby County grand jury in early November 2015.
In their Oct. 6 filings, Mathis and Holmes claimed the court “erred in allowing the state to amend the indictment the week before trial” to remove references to “multiple blows” with the baseball bat leading to Neff’s death.
On the day Blackerby was sentenced, Bostick denied Blackerby’s request to delay the sentencing to allow him to apply for youthful offender status on the murder conviction. Blackerby’s attorneys based their argument for the sentencing delay on the indictment change.
Before Bostick denied the request to delay sentencing, he said the changes to the indictment only removed “surplusage,” and said it “did not affect the degree or fact of the crime.”
Mathis and Holmes also claimed the court violated Blackerby’s Fifth, Sixth and 14th Amendment rights, and claimed the evidence in the case “indicated that the defendant should be sentenced at the low end of the sentencing range” rather than receive life in prison.
As of Oct. 10, Bostick had not ruled on Blackerby’s request for a new trial.