Blakely trial starts week 3 with recalled witness and clerk’s mistake

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ATHENS, Ala. – Monday marked the start of the third week of Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s corruption trial. The state called three witnesses, including one who was no stranger to the trial.

Much of the testimony came from the sheriff’s longtime clerk Debbie Davis, this was her second time being called to the stand.

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.

The was an issue involving Davis and a receipt she produced on the stand during the second well of the trial.

For the first time, according to prosecutors, that shows Blakely wrote a $945 check in December 2014, back to the office’s law enforcement fund to cover trip costs. That check was deposited in January 2015, but the defense said they had never seen it.

A hearing on whether the receipt should remain in evidence is set for Tuesday morning when court resumes.

News 19 also heard testimony from an attorney with the Limestone County Commission who discussed at-will employees and disciplinary hearings for terminated employees.

A special agent with the Alabama Attorney General’s Office also took the stand Monday, laying out what he says is a paper trail for Sheriff Blakely’s alleged misuse of campaign and office funds. The defense insisting that no money is missing.

Rob Stuart works with the special prosecutions division of the Attorney General’s Office that investigates public corruption and white-collar crime.

Stuart began his testimony by outlining his investigative work, much of what the state had already presented to the jury.

He discussed a number of campaign checks with stubs showing they had been deposited into Sheriff Blakely’s personal bank account. Money, Stuart alleges, either was never paid back or paid back months or sometimes years after it was taken by the sheriff.

Stuart was on the stand less than 30 minutes before Judge Pamela Baschab released the jury for the day.

Following all of the day’s testimony, the parties questioned one of the defense’s witnesses. The county commission payroll employee who overpaid Blakely to the tune of $28,000.

The witness had scheduling conflicts and will not be present for trial but she did admit she made the clerical mistake of overpaying the sheriff. The mistake was discovered in an audit and the sheriff paid the money back quickly.

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