LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala – After the judge read the verdict Monday, Mike, Blakely, the longest-serving sheriff in the state, was taken to jail and officially removed from office.
News 19 is learning more about what’s next for the Limestone County Sheriff’s Department following Blakely’s conviction on two felony charges.
Secretary of State John Merrill told News 19 a quirk in Alabama law, only a county coroner can arrest a sheriff, and county coroners act as interim sheriff until another person is appointed by the governor.
Limestone County Coroner Mike West assumed the role of sheriff after the guilty verdict was read.
“Apparently so, I was notified last night,” West told reporters Tuesday morning.
This marks a new era for Limestone County, where Mike Blakely has served as sheriff for 38 years. Blakely’s defense team held a press conference after his conviction and spoke to what this means for the area.
“Time goes on. People die, people retire, people get convicted, you know, and life moves on,” said Mark McDaniel, defense attorney.
According to Merrill, there will not be a swearing-in ceremony for West since he will only be the acting interim sheriff performing constitutional requirements of the position.
West told News 19 this will include potentially responding to certain crime scenes as the sheriff. West says will also be certified to carry a weapon and given a badge temporarily. On top of his new duties, he will continue serving as county coroner.
“Hopefully someone will be appointed, and I can get back to what I usually do,” West stated.
Governor Ivey will appoint a new sheriff. A spokesperson for her office says they will begin accepting applications and then the interview process will start in the coming weeks.
Merrill says that the appointee must be an Alabamian, but they can live in any county in the state. The appointee will serve the remainder of the sheriff’s term, which ends in January 2023.
A spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office told News 19 there do not appear to be any legal requirements to appoint a new sheriff within a specific time frame.
As for Mike Blakely, he is facing up to twenty years in prison for each of the felony convictions. His sentencing date has been scheduled for August 20.