Juror dismissed, state rests case in Blakely trial

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ATHENS, Ala. – The state rested its case in the trial of Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely but not long after, a little courtroom drama ensued, resulting in a juror being dismissed for discussing the case with her partner.

The juror’s partner, an inmate at the Limestone County Jail.

Two current inmates reported the interaction. One testified the inmate bragged that if he got out of jail, he’d sway his partner to give a not guilty verdict for Blakely.

The juror was not asked to comment before being excused.

After Judge Pamela Baschab dismissed the juror, the defense called its first witnesses most of the afternoon. Three out of the four witnesses had direct dealings with Red Brick Strategies, a firm Blakely used to handle his campaign.

Seemingly taking a run at discrediting a single count of Blakely’s indictment.

The defense called a former Red Brick Strategies employee, Alabama Representative Richie Whorton, and a campaign and elections expert to the stand Tuesday afternoon.

Red Brick Strategies President Trent Willis is alleged to have stolen nearly $100,000 from Whorton’s campaign account and is currently under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office.

All three of the men testified that Willis, one of the state’s witnesses in their case, was not to be trusted.

The state argued Willis had documents and records to back up his testimony.

One witness saying he would still be skeptical of his word and even the documents.

The charges against Blakely include four theft counts related to him allegedly taking campaign funds and then putting them into his personal account and failing to report them on campaign forms.

The defense says three of those were eventually reimbursed and reported, and the fourth one was a check written directly to Blakely and not his campaign.

One of the theft counts has been dropped.

Cross-examination of the elections and campaign expert witnesses will pick up Wednesday morning.

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