Florida woman sentenced for 2020 murder of fellow ‘Sovereign Citizen’ over child custody dispute

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — A Pensacola woman is headed to prison for the 2020 shooting death of a man in Marion County.


After a trial during which she represented herself, a jury found now 37-year-old Neely Petrie-Blanchard guilty Friday of first-degree murder with a firearm for killing 50-year-old Christopher Hallett.

The investigation started just after 9 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2020 with reports of a shooting at a home on SW 34th Court Road in Ocala.

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Responding deputies arrived to find two witnesses- a woman and her juvenile daughter- hiding in a back room of the home.

They also found Hallett on the kitchen floor, obviously dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the back of his head.

The witness told deputies she was in another room of the home with her daughter when she heard what she thought was a firecracker, before hearing a second pop.

When she went to see what was happening, the witness said she came out to the living room to see Hallett with a “pained” look on his face and Petrie-Blanchard standing by him holding a gun.

The witness said Petrie-Blanchard then aimed the gun at her and her daughter as though she intended to shoot them too, but the gun jammed, allowing them to run to the back of the house.

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The witness’ daughter told a similar story, adding that she could hear the victim say, “Oh God, Please. No…” and Petrie-Blanchard saying something to the effect of “You’re hurting my children…” before she heard additional shots being fired.

Investigators later learned that both Hallett and Petrie-Blanchard associated with the Sovereign Citizen and QAnon movements, and that Petrie-Blanchard was one of Hallett’s “clients” whom he was helping with a child custody issue.

After talking to the witnesses, investigators determined Petrie-Blanchard shot Hallett because she believed he was working against her or with the government to keep her children away from her.

Petrie-Blanchard drove away from the scene after the shooting and was captured the next day by law enforcement in Lowndes County, Georgia.

A grand jury indicted her in 2021 for one count of first-degree premeditated murder with a firearm.

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Jurors only deliberated for approximately 30 minutes Friday before finding Petrie-Blanchard guilty of first-degree murder with a firearm. After her trial, the judge sentenced Petrie-Blanchard to life in prison.

“I want to thank the jurors for their diligence during the trial,” Fifth Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Gladson said. “Being called upon to serve as a juror is one of the highest forms of community service. I also want to thank the prosecutors who worked tirelessly to seek justice on behalf of the victim and on behalf of the people of the great state of Florida.”

Assistant State Attorneys Amy Berndt and Toby Hunt successfully prosecuted the case.

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