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State seeks death penalty in Tarpon Springs triple homicide

Prosecutors list the reasons why they will seek to have Shelby Nealy put to death for the December murders.

The state intends to seek the death penalty for Shelby Nealy, the 25-year-old man accused of killing three people in Tarpon Springs to cover up another murder.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office filed the legal notice on Thursday, according to court records. Nealy bludgeoned his in-laws, Richard and Laura Ivancic and their grown son, Nicholas, just before Christmas. Then Nealy, who also goes by the name Shelby Svensen, fled to Ohio with his two young children, according to Tarpon Springs police.

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Investigators believe Nealy did so because he feared the family might discover that he had killed the couple's daughter, Jamie Ivancic, months earlier. He has not been charged in that crime. Her body was found buried in a Pasco County yard, investigators said, days after Tarpon Springs police found her family's bodies.

Prosecutors listed the reasons for seeking to have Nealty put to death: He has been convicted of crimes involving violence or the threat of violence; he committed murder to avoid arrest; the crimes were "especially heinous, atrocious or cruel;" and the homicides were committed in a "cold, calculated and premeditated manner."

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The arrest warrant in the Tarpon Springs homicides says Nealy admitted to killing his 21-year-old ex-wife Jamie Ivancic back in Jan. 2018. Then he used her phone to send text messages and photos of their two kids to fool family and friends into thinking she was still alive.

But her family started to get suspicious, Nealy told investigators. So in December he left Texas and headed to their Tarpon Springs intending to kill the Ivancic family, according to the warrant.

Starting Dec. 15, police said he ambushed each with a hammer and bludgeoned them to death. Then he ransacked their house, stole Laura Ivancic's KIA Sorento and drove to Ohio with his two children.

Tarpon Springs police discovered the family's decomposing bodies on New Year's Day inside their home at 1954 Juanita Way home. They were found just 12 miles south of where Pasco County deputies would later find Jamie Ivancic's body.

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Investigators tracked the stolen vehicle to Ohio. Nealy was arrested Jan. 3 in Lakewood, Ohio, and investigators said he confessed to all four murders. The children were found unharmed and taken into state custody there. He was extradited back to Florida about a month later and booked into the Pinellas County jail on Feb. 2. He is being held without bail.

He faces three counts of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, jail records show. The state dropped a charge of grand theft auto in regards to the stolen KIA, saying only that the charge does not merit prosecution at this time.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said it will seek to have Nealy prosecuted for Jamie Ivancic's murder, but has released no other information about that case.

Contact McKenna Oxenden at Follow @mack_oxenden.