ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — Prosecutors are asking a judge to set a trial date for a longtime Alabama sheriff who has continued to serve despite being indicted on theft and ethics charges.
The state is pushing to a date to begin the trial of Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, who was indicted in August 2019 on multiple charges, news outlets reported.
Blakely, 70, pleaded not guilty a year ago, and the state attorney general’s office maintained in court documents that it’s time for him the go on trial. A judge has set a hearing for Nov. 19, when he could consider the timing of the trial.
Court cases were delayed statewide because of the coronavirus pandemic, and as many as 500 potential jurors could be called for Blakely’s case because he’s so well known in north Alabama, where the case would be held.
Prosecutors argued that officials have learned how to conduct jury trials safely, and Blakely should go to court rather than remain in office without a resolution to his case.
A grand jury indicted Blakely on 12 felony counts and one misdemeanor alleging he stole campaign donations, used his job to obtain interest-free loans and solicited money from employees. He has been sheriff of the north Alabama county for about 37 years.
Alabama law doesn’t require the suspension of sheriffs who are under indictment.