BLOG: Juror related to Limestone County inmate excused in Blakely theft trial

Athens

ATHENS, Ala. – The state has rested its case against Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely. The longtime sheriff is facing theft and ethics charges related to his use of department money and campaign funds.

Blakely is charged with using sheriff’s office funds for a law enforcement conference in Las Vegas and also getting money sent to him from the office while he was out there.

Much of the testimony has come from Blakely’s subordinates, business partners, and friends in the community.

One witness testified that Blakely routinely took personal loans from a safe that held inmate personal funds and left an IOU, which would always be repaid.

But the sheriff’s office employee who managed the safe testified she was fearful that depositing the sheriff’s checks would overdraw his personal account.

The defense began its arguments late Tuesday afternoon.

During arguments, Limestone County Jail Administrator Tammy Waddell testified an inmate reportedly said his wife is on the jury and his release was tied to the juror voting not guilty.

The defense then called Brian McFarland, an inmate who said he knows the inmate. McFarland claimed he heard from a corrections officer about the conversation, but didn’t hear it directly.

Inmate Austin Clem took the stand and said he spoke directly with the inmate in question; the inmate told him his “old lady” said he must be released if he wants a not guilty vote.

On cross-examination, Clem said the inmate related to the juror was sharing detailed information about witnesses on the stand, “stuff that wasn’t covered in the news,” and shared that his spouse was on the jury as soon as she was selected.

Judge Pamela Baschab agreed to release the juror around 2:15 p.m.

This brings the jury pool to 14 jurors total; 15 were originally selected, including three alternates.

App users, tap here to follow Tuesday’s live blog.

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