A Zachary man accused of fatally shooting his estranged wife's new boyfriend outside her home last month was ordered held without bail Thursday, and a prosecutor said the woman is now in witness protection.
The Feb. 6 shooting occurred a week after a restraining order was issued prohibiting Jeffery Neff from going within 100 yards of the property on Hidden Pass Drive where he had lived with his wife and children until their separation.
The latest in a string of recent homicides plaguing the Zachary community came after months of escalating threats the suspect made against his…
That separation came amid recent escalating abuse, court records indicate.
Neff, 34, is accused of shooting Kylan Givens, 32, to death with a rifle and then fleeing the Hidden Pass Drive scene, East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Melissa Morvant told state District Judge Fred Crifasi during a "Gwen's Law" hearing Thursday.
Neff surrendered Feb. 22.
The hearing was held to determine whether Neff should be granted bail. Gwen's Law was created to evaluate whether defendants have the potential to harm a member of their family or the public.
Morvant argued that Neff, who was booked on a second-degree murder count, is not only a flight risk but also a danger to the community.
"The charges are as serious as they get," she told the judge. "I believe he is a serious risk to the community and should be held without bond."
Neff's attorney, Ron Haley, argued that Crifasi could put Neff under strict house arrest and order him to wear an ankle monitor. Haley added that Neff would not have turned himself in if he had any intention of running away.
The man was at large since Feb. 8.
The judge, however, sided with Morvant and said Neff must be held without bail.
The prosecutor said the woman is in the District Attorney's Office's witness protection program.
Morvant cited a Jan. 21 incident in which, according to Neff's estranged wife, he came home drunk and accused her of cheating. When her child asked why Neff had a gun, he replied: "Because they will be carrying her out in a body bag if anyone calls the police on me tonight," court documents state.
Later that night, the woman said, he threatened her with brass knuckles.
Police booked Neff into the East Baton Rouge jail on domestic aggravated assault, then released him on $10,000 bond. The conditions of his bond included issuance of the protective order.
Morvant said one of the bond conditions prohibited him from possessing a gun, and the protective order barred him from going within 100 yards of the Hidden Pass Drive home.
Neff displayed a "total disregard" for both orders, the prosecutor told Crifasi.
The estranged wife also said that, in November, Neff started kicking her car while she and her children were inside, demanding to know where she had been. She drove to the police station and he followed her, then told her, "I got you" but didn't elaborate, according to her account.
Neff has past domestic abuse arrests spanning several years. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to domestic abuse battery, court records show.
Domestic violence killings across East Baton Rouge Parish have reached a historic high amid the coronavirus pandemic, a trend experts have attributed largely to the pandemic and resulting upheaval of normal life and significant financial pressures.
A Gwen's Law hearing differs from the normal bail-setting process. Typically, bail is set based on an accused offender’s crime and criminal history. Gwen's Law requires a full-blown hearing, and it calls on the investigating police agency to have completed an initial report and turned it over to prosecutors.
The law is named after Gwen Salley, 39, of Desoto Parish. Just days before her death, her estranged husband was charged with false imprisonment, unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault with a firearm in connection with an incident involving her. He was out of jail on bail at the time he fatally shot her and then himself. She was seeking a divorce at the time.