Lawyers: Limestone County Alabama sheriff can’t make his criminal trial, being tested for coronavirus

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Lawyers for an Alabama sheriff say he can’t make his criminal trial on Monday to face ethics and theft charges, because he’s been hospitalized and is being tested for coronavirus COVID-19 (Limestone County Sheriff’s Office)

By Jack Helean / WBMA

Lawyers for Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said Friday that the sheriff is in the hospital and being tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) and therefore won’t be able to make his scheduled trial date Monday for ethics and theft charges.

Blakely was indicted in August 2018 on a 13-count indictment that accuses the sheriff of taking money from his campaign account and from Limestone County funds.

WAAY-TV reported that a motion filed Friday by Blakely’s lawyers said the sheriff:

  • Is in Athens-Limestone Hospital and has a serious respiratory condition
  • Is diagnosed with acute respiratory failure and asthma
  • Is currently being tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)

The motion also said Blakely was admitted to the hospital Friday and that his doctor expects him to be there “for at least two to three days.”

In a letter submitted with the motion, Dr. Maria Acelajado Onoya confirmed Blakely is in the hospital “for acute respiratory failure secondary to an asthma exacerbation,” that he’ll be in the hospital for possibly at least two to three days, will need rest afterward, and that he won’t be able to attend trial Monday.

According to WAAY-TV, Onoya’s letter makes no mention of the sheriff being tested for coronavirus.

WAAY-TV said they reached out to Dr. Karen Landers of the Alabama Department of Public Health late Friday to learn if the department was aware of any coronavirus testing at Athens-Limestone Hospital.

“We cannot discuss any facility testing due to privacy. However, at this time, we have no pending COVID-19 tests in our Bureau of Clinical Laboratories,” she said.

Judge Pride Tompkins has ordered that all attorneys involved in Blakely’s case be in his courtroom for hearing on Saturday morning and that Blakely’s doctor either be in the courthouse or available by conference call.

In a separate filing Friday, the judge approved a motion from the state of Alabama to remove one theft of property charge and one use of position for personal gain charge from Blakely’s case, according to WAAY-TV.

He continues to face 11 other charges.

WAAY-TV contributed to this report (Josh Rayburn, Sydney Martin)

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