UPDATE: Keith was booked into the Madison County Jail early Wednesday morning for the additional theft charges, read more on those charges below.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Huntsville City Councilman Devyn Keith is facing additional theft charges following his arrest last week, according to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
Keith, the two-term District 1 council member, is facing a total of four misdemeanor charges alleging he stole items from Walmart stores, the sheriff’s office said. The case was investigated by the Huntsville Police Department (HPD), but the sheriff’s office is handling the arrest warrants, a sheriff’s office spokesman told News 19.
News 19 asked HPD about the warrants to which a spokesperson replied, “These cases are being handled by the Madison County District Attorney’s Office to avoid any perception of, or potential for, conflict of interest.”
A Madison County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson confirmed they are going to be prosecuting the cases, but they have not yet received the warrants. The office expects to receive the warrants on Wednesday.
Keith was supposed to turn himself in sometime today, an MCSO spokesperson said. News 19 reached out to Keith’s lawyer John Taylor who said he had no comment at this time.
The Office of the Huntsville City Attorney released a statement on Keith’s charges on Tuesday stating:
“The prosecution of the case is now being handled by the Madison County District Court, thereby eliminating any perception of, or potential for, conflict of interest.
As Devyn Keith is a member of the Huntsville City Council, and as the City Council is directly involved with many aspects of Huntsville’s Municipal Court operations, the Municipal Judges and prosecutorial staff of the City Attorney’s office elected to recuse themselves from the case.
On Monday, Feb. 6, the City Attorney filed a motion to ‘nolle prosequi without prejudice’ in the one criminal case which had been filed in Municipal Court. This motion was not a dismissal of the criminal charge pending against Mr. Keith, but a necessary procedural step to facilitate the transfer of the prosecution of the criminal charge from the Municipal Court to Madison County District Court. This jurisdictional transfer will assure that the Municipal Court and the prosecutorial staff of the City Attorney’s office remain neutral and detached from Mr. Keith’s case.”
Keith was arrested and charged with fourth-degree theft on February 2, for allegedly shoplifting at a Walmart on University Drive. That charge is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a possible sentence of up to one year in jail and a maximum $6,000 fine.
Keith released a statement Friday saying in part, “Yesterday, after purchasing items at the self-checkout at Walmart, I left the store with a 20$ pair of headphones in my cart that I failed to pay for. I respect the professionalism of the Walmart staff and law enforcement officers involved with this matter.”
Keith’s statement generated significant online comments with the vast majority of commenters expressing support for him and suggesting many shoppers make those kinds of mistakes, forgetting to pay for an item.
Chris Horn, a childhood friend of Keith who says he was instrumental in helping Keith get into city hall told News 19 that many believe he is innocent until proven guilty.
“My prayers go out to him, and my prayers go out to the community,” said Horn. “The people who believe in him, those who voted for him are in support of him. He has not been convicted of anything yet, but he is a young man who will preserve through this.”