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Shelby Nealy, accused of killing ex-wife and her family, wants a deal

 
Shelby Nealy, center, seen via closed circuit television during a February court hearing. Nealy, 25, faces four counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say Nealy killed the family members to keep them from discovering the death of their daughter. He faces the death penalty. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
Shelby Nealy, center, seen via closed circuit television during a February court hearing. Nealy, 25, faces four counts of first-degree murder. Authorities say Nealy killed the family members to keep them from discovering the death of their daughter. He faces the death penalty. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published June 3, 2019

LARGO — Shelby Nealy, charged with four counts of first-degree murder, is trying to save his own life.

The 25-year-old man is accused of killing his ex-wife, her parents and her brother. In three of those killings, Nealy faces the death penalty.

In court Monday, Nealy's public defender Allison Miller told Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph Bulone that since his Feb. 3 extradition to Florida following his arrest in Ohio, Nealy has sought a deal: he's willing to plead guilty to all four counts of first-degree murder in exchange for four consecutive life sentences.

"The state has rejected that offer," Miller said, standing alongside Nealy, who was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit. Listed at 5-foot-3 and 120 pounds in jail records, he looked diminutive behind the courtroom's lectern and flanked by bailiffs. He kept his uncuffed hands behind his back during the brief hearing. His hair and beard were trimmed short.

His plea remains not guilty, and the case will drum toward trial. Bulone told Miller to move ahead with the discovery process and begin taking depositions as part of her defense.

Nealy's case is one of the most grisly in recent memory in the Tampa Bay area. The killings were two-pronged, prosecutors say. They believe he killed his ex-wife, Jamie Ivancic, 21, in January 2018, burying her in the yard of the Port Richey home they once shared.

Nealy, who also goes by Shelby Svensen, then tried to cover it up by posing as her in texts to her family, investigators say. That is, until Ivancic's family began to see through the scheme. Prosecutors say he drove to her parents' home in Tarpon Springs on Dec. 15 and bludgeoned her father, Richard Ivancic, 71; mother Laura Ivancic, 59; and 25-year-old brother, Nicholas Ivancic, one at a time with a hammer.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Man arrested in Ohio is suspect in slaying of wife's parents and brother at Tarpon Springs home (Jan. 4)

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Tarpon Springs triple homicide: Three killed to hide one murder, records show (Feb. 2)

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He left the bodies in the home for two weeks, until a neighbor reported an odor and the air conditioner running, despite not having seen anyone in the home for weeks. That's when police found the three bodies on New Year's Day.

By then Nealy had driven to Ohio with his and Jamie Ivancic's two young children. He was taken into custody in Lakewood, Ohio on Jan. 3 to be brought back to Florida the next month.

Pasco County sheriff's deputies found Jamie Ivancic's body on Jan. 6.

The deaths of the family members are being prosecuted together in Pinellas County. Even though Pinellas and Pasco together compose Florida's sixth judicial circuit, Nealy is being prosecuted separately in Pasco County for the death of his ex-wife, though Miller represents him in both cases. He does not face the death penalty in that case.

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The next hearing in the Pinellas case is scheduled for July 29. In Pasco, the next hearing is scheduled for June 26.

Contact Josh Solomon at jsolomon@tampabay.com or (813) 909-4613. Follow @ByJoshSolomon.