ATHENS, Ala. – Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s theft and ethics trial resumed on Wednesday after wrapping up its second full day of testimony on Tuesday.
The defense says no money is missing and Blakely never had any intention of deceiving anyone, but in court, it’s been the state’s version of events so far. The defense still has the opportunity to put on its case.
However, the picture painted by the prosecution’s evidence shows the sheriff moving campaign money into personal accounts and later putting that money back after he was advised of an ethics probe.
The state called its first and only witness prior to the lunch break. Debbie Davis is an 18-year employee of the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office.
She is currently the chief clerk which means she handles department finances, including the law enforcement fund, which Sheriff Mike Blakely is accused of taking extra money from while he attended conferences in Las Vegas.
Davis explained how work trip expenses work during her testimony. Sheriff’s office employees receive a set per diem amount for food each day. Davis testified that on at least two occasions, the sheriff was written larger expense checks outside of the per diem allotment for a law enforcement conference.
Davis also testified she could never really confirm a person was at a conference other than knowing that’s where they said they were going. “I made the reservations, so I know they’re there,” Davis said on the stand.
There was some confusion on the stand. Davis stated that the Limestone County Commission paid for the 2014 law enforcement conference in Vegas. The state provided proof that Davis herself wrote a check for the conference costs.
There were a few other instances where the state had to remind Davis of contrary statements she had previously made in sworn written testimony.
Davis testified that she was unaware of Ramona Robinson, who testified Tuesday, wiring the sheriff money from the inmate safe on these same trips.
Davis testified she also wired Blakely some of her personal money and she assumed he used it to gamble in Biloxi, Mississippi. The state alleges Blakely left a conference in Gulf Shores and instead traveled to Biloxi while he was supposed to be at the conference.
She also went on to say she does not want the sheriff to be convicted before the defense began its cross-examination.
After a short break, Lt. John Morrell was the next witness to take the stand. He spoke about procedures when taking work trips for the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office. He spoke about two specific trips that he took with Sheriff Blakely and others to Las Vegas in 2014 and 2015.
The custodian of records for Palace Stations casino in Vegas also testified later in the day. He verified that Blakely’s account both won and lost money during his stays in 2014 and 2015, sometimes hundreds of dollars at a time.
Court has adjourned for the day and will pick back up Thursday morning at nine.