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Witness testimony continues Friday in Sheriff Blakley’s trial

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 7:25 AM CDT
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UPDATE as of 12:00 p.m. - Before the jury entered the room on Friday, several matters were discussed. The judge in Sheriff Mike Blakely’s case addressed the idea that there was possible witness intimidation.

She said she observed Investigator Kilpatrick’s demeanor on the stand, and she sees no finding to indicate he felt intimidated by the alleged interaction. She said she feels his testimony was not affected.

The state brought up another matter. They said they are missing a record they need.

“We are in a little bit of a trick bag here. We subpoenaed that document over two years ago,” said one of the state’s attorneys.

Where the error lies is to be determined. The state had originally asked for time to look for that document on Friday and Monday, resuming proceedings Tuesday. The defense though said they don’t know why the state doesn’t have the document. The judge ruled they will hold a hearing on Tuesday morning, but those proceedings would continue Friday.

The first witness called to the stand was a real estate employee Brad Pullum. He testified that he helped the sheriff sell his parent’s house. According to the witness, Sheriff Blakely said he needed money because his, “(expletive) was in a sling because he owed somebody money.”

When asked if Pullum and another person loaned the sheriff roughly $72,000 he said yes. Through testimony, Pullum also said inmate labor helped line lead in his walls so he could have private conversations. Pullum said he wanted to have private conversations with government officials from Taiwan.

To do this, Pullum said they used inmate labor, and paid them $10 an hour.

During cross-examination, the defense counsel asked Pullum if he was under the influence. He stated that he was taking a prescribed medication of tramadol.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Witness testimony is expected to continue Friday, as Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely faces several theft and ethics charges.

On Thursday, there were quite a few surprises. Before the jury was in, attorneys brought up several matters with the judge, and one of those was witness intimidation.

Later, when the jury was in, the direct examination of Michael Forrester, the director of casino operations began. He is with MGM, the parent company of Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Mississippi, and he testified that according to casino records Sheriff Mike Blakely allegedly put in about $20,000 for chips but redeemed $1,000.

This was allegedly a side trip to a conference in Orange Beach with other county leaders. During that same trip, an employee previously testified that she had $1,000 of her own personal money wired to Sheriff Blakely.

The defense argued there’s nothing illegal about the gambling, and then asked the witness on cross-examination if he knew that Sheriff Blakely had won $975,000 in a lottery just weeks before the trip. The defense also questioned the witness, asking if it was possible the sheriff won more than he had previously stated. The witness said it was possible, and when the defense attorney asked if it was possible Sheriff Blakely broke even he said yes.

Several county commissioners accompanied Sheriff Blakely on this trip.

An expert in accounting audit practices said while she was on the stand in Sheriff Mike Blakely’s trial that no money was missing from the accounts, and there were no accounting errors. She said auditors come in every few years for weeks at a time but that they do not look at all of the records. Instead, it is just a sample size.

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