Attorney moving forward with appeals for Blakely, Darby

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Defense attorney Robert Tuten is moving forward in appealing the convictions of two former North Alabama law enforcement officers.

Longtime Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely was sentenced to 36 months in jail for theft and ethics violations Friday. Former Huntsville police officer William ‘Ben’ Darby, sentenced to 25 years for murder the same day.

The crimes committed, starkly different. The current reality of both men, also contrasting.

Blakely remains out of jail during his appeal process. He was released on a $50,000 bond. Until attorneys exhaust all of his appeal options, which could take a while, Blakely will remain out of jail. The judge in Blakely’s case also eliminated the two-year probationary requirement from his sentence Monday.

If Blakely ends up in jail following the appeals process, he will serve his sentence isolated from the general population.

On the other hand, Darby is in jail. His 25-year sentence revoked his opportunity for an appeal bond.

Tuten is planning to take the cases to the state court of appeals, and if need be the Alabama Supreme Court.

Mark McDaniel tells News 19 the state department of corrections will ultimately decide which correctional facilities the men end up in if appeal efforts are unsuccessful.

McDaniel says the state prison system is so crowded, many state prisoners are serving time in county jails because prisons are over capacity. Darby will likely stay in the county jail until the department of corrections says there’s room, at that point he’ll likely be transferred to Kilby Prison in Montgomery for processing, and then head to his assigned facility.

The City of Huntsville paid Robert Tuten $92,000 for Darby’s defense, another $25,000 went to a private investigator, and a little over $7,000 went to an expert witness called during the trial. That exhausts the $125,000 the city agreed to spend on his defense. Darby will have to fund his own appeal.

He is currently in an isolated cell away from the jail’s general population.

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