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Judge denies former sheriff’s request for new trial

September 14, 2021 GMT

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — A judge has denied former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s request for a new trial as he seeks to overturn his conviction on theft and ethics charges.

Judge Pam Baschab denied the request without comment in a brief order issued over the weekend.

Blakely was convicted of taking no-interest loans from a jail fund that held prisoners’ money and of stealing $4,000 from his campaign account.

A defense lawyer argued in court filings that there were multiple legal errors at the trial that ended in Blakely’s conviction. The defense claimed those mistakes included closing the courtroom to spectators and the media for a day during jury selection, violating his right to a public trial.

Such new trial requests are rarely granted by the trial judge after a conviction, but mark the beginning of defense efforts to appeal the conviction.

Baschab sentenced Blakely to three years behind bars. Instead of prison, Blakely will get to serve the sentence in a county jail, something prosecutors recommended. However, Baschab specified that it will be at another jail instead of the Limestone County Jail that Blakely ran for decades.