AG’s office responds to call from Mike Blakely, says they said key defense witness under investigation

ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) – The State of Alabama this week responded to former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s appeal regarding his conviction for first degree theft of property and use of his official position for accusations of personal gain.

Blakely was convicted in August 2021 of those two counts and acquitted of several other theft and ethics counts. He was Alabama’s most senior sheriff at the time of his conviction.

Blakely was sentenced to three years in county jail, but remains on bail pending appeal.

He was prosecuted by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. The AG’s office on Monday filed its response to the defense’s appeal brief seeking the quashing of Blakely’s conviction.

Defense says court should have declared a mistrial after it was revealed that a key prosecution witness was being investigated by the AG’s office for stealing money from Alabama Rep. Ritchie Whorton’s campaign, R-Scottsboro, linked to his 2018 campaign.

The flight leader alleged that Blakely took $4,000 in 2014 that was intended for political consultant Trent Willis and placed it in his personal account. The defense says the judge should have called off the trial after it was revealed that Willis was being investigated by state prosecutors. The AG’s office argues that the defense was made aware of this investigation well in advance of the trial and that the defense clearly knew this, as it had several witnesses on its pre-trial witness list who were later called to challenge the testimony. of Willis, including Whorton.

“It is hard to imagine what else Blakely could have done to impress on the jury that Willis was not a reliable witness,” prosecutors wrote in their response to Blakely’s appeal.

The appeal response brief notes that Willis was under investigation, but a review of Alabama court records reveals that no charges were filed.

The defense also argues that there was insufficient evidence for the jury to find Blakely guilty of using his office for personal gain. The defense argues that there was no criminal intent on Blakely’s part to borrow money from Limestone County Jail prisoner accounts. and finally no money was missing.

The AG’s reply brief argues that there was extensive evidence of abuse of authority, primarily that Blakely was able to access $29,000 interest-free and was allowed to repay the money as he pleased by handing over IOUs to a prison employee.

“The jury further heard that Blakely asked Robinson to hold his checks because he would have otherwise bounced them,” the appeal response reads. “The state presented evidence of nineteen personal checks totaling $29,050 that Blakely wrote to his own inmates, each of which Blakely could not cover at one time or another. Alabama law describes personal gain as being achieved “when the public official. . . receives, obtains, exercises control over, or otherwise converts to personal use the object constituting such personal gain. »

The Reply Brief also acknowledges that the money may have been returned in full, but argues that it does not matter.

“Finally, Blakely does something about his assertion that no inmate was harmed by his actions,” the brief claims in response. “Maybe. But that doesn’t change Blakely’s guilt. The charge of using the Alabama office doesn’t exclude crimes where all the money is put in its place.


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