ATHENS — Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely is hospitalized and being tested for coronavirus, his lawyers said in a motion filed this afternoon that seeks to delay the criminal trial scheduled to begin Monday.
The motion to continue said Blakely is now at Athens-Limestone Hospital, diagnosed with acute respiratory failure and asthma, and is being tested for COVID-19.
According to a letter from attending physician Dr. Maria Acelajado Onoya, which is attached to the motion, Blakely was admitted for “acute respiratory failure secondary to an asthma exacerbation."
“I expect him to stay for at least 2-3 days at this hospital and will need to rest after discharge,” the doctor’s letter reads. “I do not foresee that he will be able to appear for his trial on Monday, March 9, 2020.”
The doctor's letter does not mention coronavirus testing.
Late this afternoon, retired Circuit Judge Pride Tompkins, who is presiding over the case, ordered that all attorneys involved in the case attend a hearing Saturday at the Limestone County Courthouse, and that the doctor be available at the courthouse or by conference call at that time.
Blakely, 69, was charged in August with theft and ethics violations in a 13-count indictment.
According to the motion filed by Blakely’s lawyers, the doctor will reevaluate Blakely’s status on Monday to determine when he will be medically available to withstand a two-week trial.
“In the interest of justice and due to medical necessity, counsel requests a continuance of this case,” the motion reads.
The judge previously denied motions to continue that sought delays in the trial due to health problems of Blakely's lead attorney, Robert Tuten.