As of Monday evening, the Limestone County Sheriff of 38 years is no longer in charge. Mike Blakey's guilty verdict comes after the jury deliberated for 10 hours total.
This criminal trial has been a long process for everyone involved, with one full week of jury selection, two weeks of witness testimony, and two days of jury deliberations.
One attorney from Blakely's defense team thanked the jurors for their time spent on this case.
"They've spent a lot of time in it. They are good people, good citizens who have dedicated their time to hearing this case," says Mark McDaniel.
Even though Blakely was found guilty on two counts, his attorneys are focusing on the not guilty verdicts.
"In hearing those not guilty verdicts, that was good and positive for us. But we're still fighting, that's what it's all about," says McDaniel.
Blakely's friends and family members did not have the same positive outlook. Many of them crying and hugging each other after the guilty verdict was read.
For the defense, now the appeals process starts.
McDaniel explains, "[started with] thirteen counts, we're down now to two counts, okay. So we'll certainly appeal this decision."
The Attorney General's office grateful for those two guilty verdicts, echoing their same message from closing arguments: the Sheriff should be held accountable to the same laws he enforces.
"Today, Sheriff Blakely has been held to account for felony violations of the Alabama ethics law as well as a theft charge. As a result of his felony convictions, he is going to be removed from office today," says Chief Deputy Clay Crenshaw.
The county coroner, Mike West, will take over as acting sheriff until Gov. Kay Ivey appoints a new one.
The convictions arise from Blakely’s August 22, 2019, indictment for theft of $4,000 from his campaign account, and for use of his official position or office to obtain interest-free loans by taking money from a safe that was used to store the Limestone County inmates’ personal funds.
“Public officials must set the highest example of accountability, and no matter how long someone holds office they are not above the law,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a prepared statement. “Sheriff Blakely repeatedly swore an oath to enforce and obey the law during his 40 years in office, and he now knows the consequences of violating that oath.
“I want to thank the Limestone County jury for carefully reviewing all the facts of this case and reaching a just conclusion.”
Blakely faces possible sentences of two to 20 years for the felony theft conviction, as well as two to 20 years for the felony ethics conviction. Sentencing will occur at a later date.
Marshall thanked his Special Prosecutions Division, including Assistant Deputy Attorney General Clark Morris; and Assistant Attorneys General Kyle Beckman, Peggy Rossmanith, James Houts, and Jasper Roberts; as well as the division’s special agents and support staff for their hard work in prosecuting the case. He also thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation for its investigative assistance in this case.