LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon at his arraignment on 13 criminal charges.
Blakely and his attorneys are set to go to trial on March 9th.
Tuesday was a short, but memorable appearance in Limestone County court for Blakely, uttering just a few words to the judge, "Not guilty on all counts, your honor."
"I think he wanted the citizens to know that he intends to fight this case," Blakely's attorney Robert Tuten said.
Sheriff Blakely's arraignment lasted just a few minutes. The state attorney general's office is charging him with 12 felony counts of theft and using his position for personal gain.
"He's doing fine. He's continuing to do his job as elected sheriff," Tuten said.
Blakely has been elected sheriff nine times. He's hired three attorneys to represent him, opting to let them do the talking on Tuesday.
"He's responded fine. I'm sure it's unusual and possibly uncomfortable for him. But he's working through it," Tuten said.
Sheriff Blakely's term runs through 2022, and he's given no indication he'll resign or take a leave of absence during the trial.
"Just that he's looking forward to his day in court and proving that he's innocent," Tuten said.
With four months until the trial is set to begin, Blakely's attorneys say they fully expect the case to go to trial and they say they'll be ready.
Prosecutor Peggy Rossmanith says she expects the trial to last about a week.
Blakely was indicted in August on theft and ethics charges, including stealing from his office and from his sheriff campaign account.
Blakely has contended that the ethics law he was indicted under is unconstitutionally vague. A judge turned down his request last week to have the case thrown out.
He has served as sheriff in Limestone County for 36 years.