New trial denied for teen convicted of murder

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – An 18-year-old Maylene man who has been convicted of killing a 19-year-old victim with a baseball bat in 2015 will not receive a new trial in Shelby County Circuit Court, after a judge denied the request during a Nov. 29 hearing.

Blackerby

Circuit Court Judge William Bostick denied the new trial request for Eric Matthew Blackerby about a month-and-a-half after Blackerby’s attorneys filed the request, claiming “numerous constitutional errors” were committed during his trial, and claiming his sentence of life in prison constituted “cruel and unusual punishment.”

In September, Bostick sentenced Blackerby to life in prison for killing William Neff during a “violent attack” with an aluminum baseball bat at an outdoor area “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.”

In their request for a new trial, Blackerby’s attorneys Erskine Mathis and Samuel 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.