While several trials in Limestone County have seen new dates set since the reopening of the court system, the jury trial for Limestone Sheriff Mike Blakely has remained without update, leading state prosecutors to file a motion Tuesday for a trial setting or status conference.
The same day, Judge Pride Tompkins ordered a status conference for next week. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in the Limestone County Courthouse.
Blakely's trial was initially set to begin March 9, just days before coronavirus pandemic caused court systems across Alabama to shut down. The state noted in its motion that jurors were qualified March 9 and told to appear the next week for voir dire, or a preliminary examination before the trial begins.
Instead, the entire trial was placed on hold, where it has remained even as other trials in the county resume.
"While the State recognized that COVID-19 remains an issue, it submits that this case should be set for trial," the motion reads. "No jurisdiction was prepared to hold a jury trial in March 2020, but eight months later, times have changed."
Blakely, who was first elected sheriff in 1982, was indicted by a Limestone County grand jury in August 2019. He pleaded not guilty to the 13-count indictment at a November 2019 arraignment.
Of the 13 counts, 12 are felonies and one is a misdemeanor. Counts 1–4 charge him with thefts from his campaign account, totaling $11,000; counts 5–10 charge him with theft or ethics charges stemming from money taken from Limestone County funds, including the pistol permit fund; count 11 charges him with soliciting $1,000 from an employee; and counts 12 and 13 charge him with using his position as sheriff to obtain interest-free loans, including from a safe that held money belonging to Limestone County Jail inmates.