Nealy walked into the courtroom with longer hair and a thicker beard, dressed in a burnt orange and white striped jail uniform, his wrist and ankle shackles clinking as he moved.
The 25-year-old is accused of killing his ex-wife Jamie Ivancic in 2018 and burying her body in a Port Richey yard. Authorities discovered her body after learning that just before Christmas, Nealy killed three other members of the Ivancic family in Tarpon Springs to cover up her death.
He showed no emotion during the hearing, save for a chuckle he shared with his public defender.
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Assistant Public Defender Shahita Gay-Hairston told the court that Nealy had filed a plea of not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder on March 8. He also waived his right to a speedy trial, which in Florida is within 175 days of a felony arrest.
After he killed his ex-wife, authorities say Nealy used Jamie Ivancic’s cell phone to send messages and photos of their two children to family to pretend to be her, to fool themselves into thinking she was still alive.
It was his fear of that scheme unraveling, authorities said, that led Nealy to travel from Texas to Tarpon Springs where he ambushed the Ivancic family starting on Dec. 15, bludgeoning his former father-in-law Richard Ivancic, then wife Laura Ivancic, and then their grown son Nicholas Ivancic.
After ransacking their home, authorities said Nealy stole Laura Ivancic’s car and fled to Ohio with his two young children.
Tarpon Springs police discovered the family’s bodies on New Year’s Day inside their home at 1954 Juanita Way home. They were found just 12 miles south of where the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office deputies would soon find Jamie Ivancic’s remains
Authorities tracked the stolen car and Nealy to Ohio and arrested him there on a Pinellas County warrants for three counts of first-degree murder. A month later he was brought back to Pinellas to stand trial. Then on Feb. 22, he was charged in Jamie Ivancic’s murder.
Bringing Nealy to Pasco was necessary to start court proceedings on the crime in that county, said Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Mary Handsel. He will remain held in the Pinellas County jail without bail, however, and waived his right to appear in future court proceedings in Pasco County.
While Pinellas and Pasco are in the same judicial circuit, it is not yet known if all four murder cases will be tried together, or in separate counties.
Nealy also faces the death penalty in the three Pinellas murder cases. The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office has not yet declared whether it will seek the death penalty in Jamie Ivancic’s case as well.
Contact McKenna Oxenden at [email protected] Follow @mack_oxenden.