HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The arrest of Huntsville City Councilman Devyn Keith in February on shoplifting charges at a Walmart on University Drive raised multiple questions about the case and Keith’s future.
The criminal case has now reached a resolution. Keith, the two-term District One council member, entered a guilty plea on two theft counts – and two other counts were dropped Tuesday, as part of a plea agreement.
The agreement includes two years of probation, a suspended jail sentence and fines. The charges stemmed from four alleged shoplifting incidents at Walmart stores, totaling just under $500.
The plea agreement also helps answer at least one key question regarding the well-known and popular councilman’s status on the Huntsville City Council.
Keith’s seat is up for reelection next year. A review of the Huntsville City Council candidate qualifying rules and Alabama law shows that his misdemeanor theft convictions are not disqualifying for either serving in public office or running for public office.
Huntsville City Council candidates don’t face a complicated list of qualifications. According to the City of Huntsville website, “All candidates must have been a resident of the City for at least 90 days prior to the election, and must be a qualified elector of the City. City Council and School Board Candidates for election from Districts are required to reside within the limits of their Districts during the term of office.”
A “qualified elector” means that a person is legally eligible to vote. Under Alabama law, a person can run for office if they are legally able to vote. A candidate loses that ability if he or she has been convicted of a felony of moral turpitude, which includes most serious crimes, including felony first- and second-degree theft of property.
Keith pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree theft, which is a misdemeanor.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, Keith spoke about facing an arrest while holding office.
“In some professions, you get to go home and take off the uniform, and it’s over,” he said. “But I decided to be a public servant, so I am held to a higher standard. So as a public servant, I must realize even the little moments of integrity mean the most. I am a city councilman when I shop, I’m a city councilman when I work on my yard. I am a city councilman when I interact with people inside of this community. I represent the greatest people just this side of heaven. So, it has taught me an endeared lesson, that I cannot express enough, and that is – integrity — integrity at all times, even in the little moments, means so much.”
Keith has not addressed if he will seek a third term on the council.
As part of his plea agreement, he is considered ‘trespassed’ from all Walmart locations – meaning he is not allowed inside.