LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. — UPDATE: In the case of former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, the court ruled that "the motion to overturn and set aside verdicts returned on counts 2 and 13 of the indictment and to declare a mistrial or in the alternative grant a new trial are DENIED."
The motion was filed on August 5 after an affidavit was filed by a juror in the case.
The state argued that the "anti-impeachment" rule that precludes jurors from attacking or impeaching their own verdict means that "even if everything in the affidavit were true (and there are serious doubts about the truth of the affidavit), this Court would have no authority to order a new trial or a mistrial because controlling precedent prohibits consideration of such matters."
A juror in the trial of former Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely filed an affidavit on Thursday, August 5, calling for a mistrial for counts 2 and 13, the counts for which Blakely was found guilty.
Following the filing of the affidavit, Blakely's defense filed a motion to overturn the two guilty verdicts and either declare a mistrial or hold a new trial.
Their motion says in part:
As this Honorable Court is aware, on August 2, 2021, a 12-member jury returned a guilty verdict on Counts 2 and 13 of the indictment against the Defendant; however, the Defendant’s counsel has been made aware that said guilty verdicts were not unanimous and done in error.
Furthermore, Defendant’s counsel was alerted to extraneous factors, influences and circumstances that were so coercive in nature they placed Juror Pentecost in a position of undue duress and ultimately caused her to vote contrary to her conscience and belief. See attached Affidavit Juror [redacted], a copy of which is attached hereto, labeled and marked as Exhibit “1”.
The conduct described in Juror [redacted]'s affidavit undermines the validity and calls into the question the verdicts returned on Counts 2 and 13 of the indictment.
As of August 5 at 5:00 p.m., the court has not ruled on the motion.
The juror claims the jury incorrectly informed Judge Pamela Baschab it had reached a unanimous verdict on all counts.
"On Count 2 and Count 13, despite what we told the Judge when we were polled, we were not unanimous. I never saw anything during the trial with any evidence or testimony that convinced me Michael Blakely was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of Count 2 and Count 12. I understand I told the Judge that was my verdict, but that was incorrect, not truthful, and I'm ashamed of myself for not saying something when I was asked," the affidavit reads.
The juror said they have various health conditions that impacted their decisions.
"It impacts your ability to function, to think logically and I get extremely lethargic and exhausted. My medical condition is what caused me to incorrectly tell the other jurors and the judge that my vote was guilty on Count 2 and Count 13 even though it was not. I watched the whole trial, I took detailed notes, and I walked away convinced the State of Alabama failed to reach their burden on all counts. A mistrial should have been declared on both Count 2 and Count 13," the affidavit reads.
The juror continues in the affidavit to claim the jury did not hold a vote to select a foreman, which they say is contradictory to Judge Baschab's instructions. The juror claims the person who became the foreman decided they would do so prior to deliberations.
"When we began deliberating we went count by count with [the foreman] leading deliberations. My vote on Count 2 and Count 13 were both not guilty," the affidavit reads. "[The foreman] yelled at me over and over throughout both days of deliberations 'I AM NOT GOING TO HAVE A MISTRIAL.'"
The juror claims the foreman refused on multiple occasions their request to get the bailiff and inform him the jury could not compromise and come up with a unanimous verdict.
"On my last prompt to get the bailiff or judge to inform them we could not reach a consensus [the foreman] ignored my instructions, sat on the table, and told me 'what the f--- is wrong with you?' I told her not to raise her voice to me. She and other jurors began to speak to me with raised voices, they attempted to bully me and over time I gave up as I was suffering from [a medical condition.] I want to be clear - I can take bullying and bad words. My medical condition and NOT the verbal threats from other jurors is what caused me to incorrectly change my vote on Count 2 and Count 13. I wanted to get out of that room because I feared I was about to die from either a stroke or brain bleed caused by my [medical condition] and not the words or stress of others," the affidavit reads.