March 5, 2021

Case against indicted Alabama sheriff stalls once again after judge steps down

The case against a longtime Alabama sheriff accused of theft and ethics violations is being delayed again after a judge stepped aside.

Retired Circuit Judge Pride Tompkins cited his own risk of catching the coronavirus in a one-sentence order issued Wednesday recusing himself from the case against Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely.

Blakely, 70, was indicted on multiple felony charges in August 2019 on a dozen felony counts and one misdemeanor alleging he stole campaign donations, used his job to obtain interest-free loans and solicited money from employees. Blakely has continued working since Alabama law does not require the suspension of sheriffs who are under indictment.

An initial trial date nearly a year ago was canceled because of the pandemic, and the case has been delayed ever since.

The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court will appoint a replacement for Tompkins, who was tapped for the case after other judges stepped down.