The much-anticipated trial- delayed for more than a year due to the pandemic- for Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely begins next week.
Jury selection could take all next week before opening statements even begin.
The sheriff faces 11 charges alleging theft and ethics violations. Prosecutors also accuse the Blakely of using his position for personal financial gain.
In court documents, the 10-term sheriff is accused of using official office funds for personal gain and that he gambled while on official business.
In recent weeks, dozens of people received subpoenas to testify in the case that could drag on for more than a month, according to legal experts WAAY 31 reached out to for analysis ahead of the trail starting July 12.
Potential witnesses include current Limestone County Sheriff Office employees, Limestone County leaders, a casino employee and even a local political consultant who worked with Blakely on a recent reelection campaign.
Trent Willis owned Red Brick Strategies, and served as a consultant to Blakely. It is not clear what if any information Willis has related to the case against sheriff Blakley, but legal experts tell WAAY 31 they will be watching for what Willis has to say.
Sheriff Blakely is the longest serving sheriff in the state. He has vowed to run again in 2022 if cleared of the charges against him and remains on the job since pleading not guilty in 2019.
The sheriff is popular in the county, his public position makes finding an impartial jury, a difficult process. For a typical jury trial in the area, 100 potential jurors are summoned, but with this case, 500 summons were sent out to residents.
On July 12, Blakely’s legal team and state prosecutors will begin the tedious process of interviewing potential jurors, a process that is expected to take three or four days.
WAAY 31 has confirmed one of the charges against Blakely involves a $4,000 check sent to him from Red Brick Strategies, the company Willis owned.
Since everyone involved in the case is under a judge’s gag order, more details about the allegations won’t likely be available until witnesses take the stand later in the month.
If Blakely is found guilty, the sheriff would lose his post and could face decades in a jail cell.