LARGO — A judge on Monday appointed a doctor to evaluate whether Shelby Nealy, who is accused of killing his ex-wife and three of her family members, is competent to stand trial.
Nealy, 27, is unable to help his lawyers with his defense, has “irrational trial strategies” and distrusts his attorneys, according to court documents.
Since he was booked into the Pinellas County jail in February 2019, Nealy had lived mostly in isolation for his own protection and was being treated for a mental health condition.
Recently, one of his attorneys, Pinellas-Pasco Assistant Public Defender Allison Miller, became aware of his deteriorating mental state, Miller wrote in court documents. He was placed in psychiatric isolation and had to be persuaded to take his psychotropic medication.
During a court hearing Monday, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone appointed a doctor to evaluate Nealy’s mental state. Should he be deemed incompetent to stand trial, Nealy will be sent to a state mental hospital until his competency is restored.
Nealy will go to trial twice, once for the killing of his ex-wife Jamie Ivancic and again for the slaying of her parents and brother almost a year later. He faces the death penalty in the latter cases. One trial, in the killing of his ex-wife, is set for August in Pasco County. The other is scheduled for October in Pinellas County. Those trial dates will likely be pushed back if the expert and judge determine Nealy is incompetent to stand trial.
Nealy is accused of killing his ex-wife in January 2018 and burying her in the backyard of the Port Richey home they once shared, according to police. He then posed as her for almost a year in text messages to her family.
As the woman’s family grew suspicious of her whereabouts, Nealy drove in December 2019 to their Tarpon Springs home and bludgeoned the family with a hammer. Their bodies were found New Year’s Day 2019.
Nealy appeared in court Monday morning with a shaved head and wearing orange scrubs. He didn’t speak during the few minutes he was in the courtroom.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article misstated the cases for which Nealy is facing the death penalty.