Former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely was ordered to serve the maximum sentence for his two felony convictions.
The judge on Friday ordered Blakely to serve 36 consecutive months in a county jail outside of Limestone County, followed by two years of unsupervised probation.
Following the judge's sentencing, many of the audience members were shocked as they found out the sheriff of 38 years will be spending 3 years in county jail, pending appeals.
The sentence surprised many people because the judge had just heard almost two hours of character witnesses speaking on behalf of Blakely.
Of those brought to the stand, Judge Pamela Baschab heard an emotional testimony from Blakely's son, followed by testimony from Blakely himself.
During Blakely's testimony, he spoke about his past two weeks inside the Limestone County jail, telling the judge, "It was a very different experience having to stay in my jail, but I thank you for that." He it's been an honor to serve Limestone County.
The judge also heard from former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb. Cobb thanked Baschab, her former colleague, for helping Cobb make history as she had never spoken on behalf of a criminal defendant before.
But, the testimonies did not sway the judge in her sentence. Now, the defense team is focusing on Blakely's two guilty verdicts.
"We're going to focus on those two on the appeal, and there's a process obviously that we have to go through to put those before the appellate court," says Blakely's attorney, Robert Tuten.
Blakely's defense team was not happy with the sentence, as they argued in court the sentencing guidelines indicated Blakely should only get probation.
"We want to just take a step back right now, let the dust settle on the sentencing hearing a little bit, and then focus on the appeal from this point on," says Tuten.
The sentence might not have been what the defense wanted, but the prosecution considers it a win.
In a statement from Attorney General Steve Marshall, he says, "it is vitally important that this sentence sends a clear and strong message that officials who breach the public's trust should and will face the same penalties as anyone else. Once again, I commend the Limestone County jury for weighing the evidence and reaching the right conclusion.'"
Less than an hour after Blakely learned his fate, he posted his $50,000 appeal bond. That means he no longer has to spend another night inside the Limestone County jail where he had been for the past two weeks.
Blakely's team also immediately filed a notice of appeal, which marks the beginning of what can be a very lengthy appeals process.
Since Blakely posted bond and filed notice of appeal, the next step is the appeal could go to the Alabama court of criminal appeals. Then, both the defense and prosecution will file briefs, there could be oral arguments, and even a petition to go to the Alabama Supreme Court.
"The big question of the day seems to be how long will the appeal take, and right now no body knows that. The more complicated the case the longer it will take. And I can tell you that this is pretty complicated," says Tuten.
Even though Blakely now knows his punishment for his two theft and ethics violations, his lengthy court procedures are far from over.