Erick Blackerby was sixteen years old when he beat to death another teenager with a baseball bat. According to court documents Eric Blackerby was watching his brother fight the victim when he jumped in and struck the victim with a baseball bat causing his death. This teen killer would be convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison
Eric Blackerby 2023 Information
|BLACKERBY, ERIC MATTHEW
|STATON CORRECTIONAL CENTER
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Eric Blackerby was sentenced Tuesday to spend his life in prison for killing another teen with a baseball bat in 2015.
Eric Blackerby was found guilty of murder after a three-day trial in August. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole by Shelby County Circuit Judge William Bostick, III.
“Mr. Blackerby, you’re the person parents fear the worst,” Bostick said before announcing the sentence. “You brought that bat knowing what would happen.”
Erskine Mathis, one of 18-year-old Erick Blackerby’s lawyers, said in court he would appeal the sentence.
Erick Blackerby briefly spoke before being sentenced. “I’m very sorry for the family’s loss, and I do hope the best for them. I’m very sorry.”
The Alabaster teen was just 16 when he was arrested and charged in the death of 19-year-old William Allen Neff.
Neff was beaten to death during a fight at a popular teen hangout spot called “The Slab” in Shelby County. Erick Blackerby was initially charged with first-degree assault, but the charge was upgraded to murder after Neff died two days later.
“He took his bat, and swung it with full force,” Shelby County Deputy District Attorney Roger Hepburn said during opening statements. “He unnecessarily… cruelly killed somebody with that bat. And that’s why we’re here.”
Information presented at trial showed the fight on July 28, 2015 started after Erick Blackerby’s older brother and Neff got into a verbal altercation over a girl they both knew. The two boys arranged the fight at The Slab, and the younger Blackerby attended along with about nine of their friends. Hepburn said during the fight, Neff was losing– he was lying on the ground, with the older Blackerby brother on top of him, when the younger Blackerby brother (Eric) jumped in the fight and and hit Neff with an aluminum baseball bat.
Several other teenagers who were present the night of the fight testified during the trial, along with the Blackerby brothers.
Neff’s mother, Taleigha Palmer, spoke at Tuesday’s sentencing. “My brain doesn’t really work as well as it used to. My heart is always hurting,” she said. She said Neff’s father, Vann, died about a month before the trial began. He had a heart condition, but Palmer said Neff’s death exacerbated his health problems.
She also read a letter from her son John, one of Neff’s brothers. He wrote, “It’s been two years since my little brother was killed… At first, you think of the obvious things… he’ll never marry, he’ll never have children, he’ll never get to grow up.” John’s letter continued, “We’ll never get to argue about movies, or embarrass each other in front of a new girlfriend.” John said a “lifetime of small joys and small moments” is what he misses most about his brother.
Numerous people spoke for Blackerby at the hearing, including the former director of Shelby County juvenile court, John Miller. He said he met Erick Blackerby when the teen was 15 and had been arrested for being a minor in possession of alcohol. Because Blackerby had no prior arrests, he was allowed to participate in a program and avoid prosecution. Miller said during that year he worked with Blackerby, the teen was “respectful, fully compliant, and on time.” He described the teen as “likable, smart, and compassionate” and said he “always took up for the underdog.”
Erick Blackerby’s girlfriend’s father Tom Underhill also spoke on behalf of Blackerby. He said Blackerby is a “very dedicated and hard working young man,” and said he only misses work to attend his daughter’s doctors visits. She is pregnant with Blackerby’s first child.
Two other family friends spoke, and said Erick Blackerby is a kind teenager who made a grave mistake.
Mathis argued at trial Erick Blackerby was afraid of Neff and took the bat to the fight for protection. Mathis said Blackerby was a small teen, and had a “16-year-old brain,” with premature thoughts and logic. “He had no intention of killing anyone. But, unfortunately, he did kill someone,” Mathis said.
Erick Blackerby said at his trial he hit Neff at least twice, and the coroner’s report showed one of those hits was fatal.
An indictment stating Neff died of numerous hits to the head was corrected before trial, and the judge denied hearing a second youthful offender hearing based on the fact that only one hit was the cause of death.
The jury did receive instructions on a self-defense claim, but denied that charge and opted to convict the teen of intentional murder