VALDOSTA — A suspect in a Florida murder case was arrested Monday in Lowndes County, according to authorities.
Neely Petrie-Blanchard, 34, was in the Lowndes County Jail Tuesday afternoon, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office’s website said.
Petrie-Blanchard was wanted in a Sunday shooting death in Marion Oaks, an unincorporated town near Ocala, Fla., according to a Marion County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office’s statement.
Marion County deputies responded to a report of a shooting around 9 p.m. on Court Road in Marion Oaks. They found Christopher Hallett dead with numerous gunshot wounds, the statement said. Eyewitnesses and juveniles were found hiding in a back room, a sheriff’s office affidavit shows.
Eyewitnesses picked the suspect out of a photo lineup and said she shot Hallett because he couldn’t help her regain custody of her children, according to the statement.
One eyewitness said the suspect pointed a gun at her and her daughter; the witness fled with her child to the back room, and heard more gunshots afterward, the affidavit said.
A nationwide alert was put out for the suspect’s car; the alert was picked up by a Lowndes County deputy who was related to a deputy in Marion County.
The Lowndes County deputy contacted his Florida relation for more information about the vehicle, then found the suspect at a gas station, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said.
Petrie-Blanchard is awaiting extradition to Marion County, the statement said. She faces a charge in Florida of murder dangerous-depraved without premeditation, the affidavit shows.
Hallett, 50, ran an entity called E-Clause LLC that featured a Facebook page filled with documents, graphics and articles about whether governments have authority in many instances over individuals. This viewpoint is frequently summarized as the “sovereign citizen” movement.
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said that when Petrie-Blanchard was arrested, she began telling authorities that she had “sovereign immunity” and that the U.S. Constitution did not apply to her.
“As I understand it, these people (“sovereign citizen” followers) say they are not subject to the laws of the United States,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.