LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. — The State of Alabama is asking a judge to set a trial date for Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, who is facing theft and ethics charges which allege he misused his office for personal gain.
Blakely, who was indicted in August 2019, was set to go on trial in March, but the COVID-19 virus effectively shut down most criminal proceedings for the past six months. Given how well-known Blakely is — he is currently Alabama’s longest serving sheriff — the jury pool was set to include nearly 500 would-be-jurors.
Blakely has continued to serve as sheriff during while awaiting trial.
Prosecutors from the Alabama Attorney General’s office pointed to Blakely’s continued role as sheriff in arguing for the case to move forward.
“Defendant Blakely, the Sheriff of Limestone County, was permitted to continue working as Sheriff because no Alabama law authorizes his suspension while under indictment,” the filing noted.
Prosecutors argued Blakely pleaded not guilty to the charges nearly a year ago and that it is time for the case to go to trial.
“No jurisdiction was prepared to hold a jury trial in March 2020, but eight months later, times have changed,” prosecutors argued in the filing. “Court officials have now learned how to safely conduct a jury trial. What has not changed, however, is that Limestone County residents continue to live and work in a community in which their Sheriff stands accused of multiple felonies.
“These people deserve a resolution on whether Defendant Blakely is guilty or innocent of the charges he faces. Three hundred and sixty-three days ago, he pleaded not guilty. The State should be permitted to make its case to show otherwise, under the safety protocols developed since this case was last set for trial.”
Tuesday afternoon appointed Judge Pride Tompkins set a status hearing for November 19.
Blakely is facing multiple theft and ethics charges, which accuse him of stealing money from his office and campaign accounts, as well as soliciting money from employees. Blakely has argued that the ethics law is unconstitutionally vague.