LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - The groundwork is being laid for Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely's trial. Blakely was indicted in August on 13 theft and ethics charges, including abuse of power. Tuesday, attorneys and Sheriff Blakely were in court, setting the stage for what happens next.
That meeting was not public. A few minutes before the scheduling conference was set to start, a clerk came into the courtroom and told reporters it would happen behind closed doors and members of the media would not be allowed in.
Blakely stayed quiet as he left the courthouse, but his attorney explained how the state and the defense are preparing for the upcoming trial.
"We discussed the filing of pretrial motions, how those would be filed, and when the court would be having a hearing on all those motions, which has been set for February 21st at 9 o'clock," said attorney Marcus Helstowski.
The jury pool for the trial is much larger than normal. Helstowski says the court has hashed out logistics to handle the amount of people coming to the courthouse.
"We've worked out a way so that the potential jurors can be effectively voir dired as well as a way so that the Sheriff is afforded a fair and reasonable trial. And we know that Limestone County will give him that," Helstowski said.
Before Tuesday's scheduling conference, Blakely's attorneys asked the court to seal certain motions before the trial begins.
"There will be certain statements made in motions in limine and other pretrial motions that we don't want to get out to the public because we don't want the public to be tainted. We don't want members of the jury to have too much information regarding this case coming into court," Helstowski said.
WHNT News 19 contacted the attorney general's office about Tuesday's proceedings. A spokesperson for the office told me they have no comment.
Blakely's criminal trial is set to take place on March 9.