ATHENS, Ala. – Former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, who was sentenced to three years in jail on theft and ethics charges, is asking for a new trial.
Blakely, who served as sheriff for 38 years, says the court made a series of errors that require him to receive a new trial. The case was heard by retired Judge Pamela Baschab.
The filing by Blakely’s lawyers follows his conviction on August 2 on charges that he deposited a campaign check into his personal account and used his office to borrow money from jail prisoners and, on some occasions, took months to pay it back. He was acquitted on eight of the charges by the jury.
The filing by Blakely’s lawyers Monday argues that the court made a series of errors, the full filing can be read here.
Some of the major errors Blakely’s lawyers state in the motion include:
Closing the courtroom for a day and a half to the public and media during jury selection;
Failing to dismiss a theft count he was convicted of, because his attorneys say, it was a campaign act violation but was treated as a standard theft count and failing to grant the defense’s claim that the charge exceeded the statute of limitations;
Failing to grant a mistrial after the defense alleged prosecutors from the Alabama Attorney General’s office failed to disclose to the defense that a state witness, Trent Willis, was under investigation by the Attorney General’s office for stealing from another candidate’s campaign;
Failing to grant a mistrial after a juror came forward after the verdict and claimed she issued the wrong verdict due to health reasons. Blakely’s lawyers contend a hearing should have been held to assess the juror’s claims;
The court erred in its reading of Alabama’s sentencing guidelines, in sentencing Blakely to 36 months in jail. The defense says the court also erred in letting prosecutors assert aggravators related to Blakely’s conduct despite the requirement that those aggravators have to – and were not – asserted seven days before the trial;
The defense alleges several other errors.
The defense filing asks the court to hold a hearing and allow for oral argument.