A retired appellate judge has been assigned to the trial of Limestone County's sheriff, records show.
Former Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Pamela W. Baschab will take over as presiding judge after retired Colbert County Circuit Court Judge Pride Tompkins recused himself from the case. Tompkins cited concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and his high-risk health status as reasons for recusing himself.
Limestone Sheriff Mike Blakely's trial was initially set to begin last March, but one week after jury selection began, the pandemic also began, bringing all trials to a halt. It wasn't until months later that a new date was announced, but it was continued again due to the pandemic.
Blakely, who was elected sheriff in 1982, pleaded not guilty to a 13-count indictment at a November 2019 arraignment. Two of the counts were later dismissed.
Of the remaining counts, four charge him with thefts from his campaign account, totaling $11,000; three are theft or ethics charges stemming from money taken from Limestone County funds; another charges him with soliciting $1,000 from an employee; and the final two 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.