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Judge denies motion for mistrial following testimony, a new motion filed to dismiss theft charge

One witness’ credibility is being questioned by the defense, as he is under investigation himself
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 8:00 PM CDT
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LIMESTONE CO., Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE: A new motion was filed in Sheriff Blakely’s trial late Monday night. Blakely’s attorneys are requesting the Judge to dismiss count 2 of the indictment, theft of property, and strike all testimony documents given by Monday’s witness.

This is a breaking update. Read details from the first full day in Blakely’s trial below.

The first day of witness testimony had an unusual twist in Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely’s corruption trial. All of the testimony had to do with Blakely putting campaign funds into his personal bank account, which the state previously said was done to prevent an overdraft.

But it was a witness today that prompted defense attorneys to once again ask for a mistrial. That’s founder and CEO of Red Brick Strategies Trent Willis, he’s worked with multiple politicians across the state. Willis was the last witness to take the stand on Monday to discuss his contribution and work on Blakely’s campaign.

Not long into Willis’ testimony, the judge sent the jury out and both the state and defense approached the judge and began to argue. Willis then left the courthouse. The defense said that Willis was under investigation himself for allegedly stealing $100,000 from another campaign, filing false campaign reports, and more. They said its unclear if there is a pending indictment or charge for this.

The state says the information was nothing new and that Willis is here because of subpoena and nothing else, to which the judge said it’s new to her and that she should have known about this earlier.

The defense then said they would like to make a motion for mistrial because the jury may be tainted by his testimony and documents presented as evidence and that it would be very prejudicial to Sheriff Blakely. The judge quickly denied their request.

The courtroom today was flooded with spectators from the community, and multiple witnesses took the stand who were asked about funds or donations to Blakely’s campaign that were actually deposited into his personal account, something an expert in elections law said was illegal.

There were specific checks presented as evidence that were put into Blakely’s personal account, and his campaign treasurer testified he knew nothing about this.

Willis is suspended as a witness until Tuesday at 9 a.m., and both sides will come to the Limestone County Courthouse early to further discuss this issue and Willis’ credibility as a witness.

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