Lawyer makes false coronavirus claim to delay trial

It had to happen sooner rather than later.

Fox News reports…

ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — Lawyers for a longtime Alabama sheriff seeking a delay in his Monday theft trial wrongly claimed the officer was being tested for the illness caused by a new coronavirus.

With Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely set to go on trial on felony charges, his attorneys told a judge in a court document filed Friday he was hospitalized and being tested for COVID-19.

But testimony during a rare Saturday hearing showed the 69-year-old Blakely wasn’t being tested for the illness, and Circuit Judge Judge Pride Tompkins criticized the defense for making claims that could cause a public panic, The News Courier of Athens reported.

“I don’t know what your tactic is, but it’s condemned by the court,” Tompkins said. “And the court won’t tolerate it.”

Defense lawyer Robert Tuten said he was simply mistaken about the sheriff’s health problem and wasn’t “trying to pull a fast one.” Records indicated Blakely was hospitalized with a respiratory problem, but a doctor testified there was no indication it was COVID-19 and such testing wasn’t needed.

“There are apparently several different kinds of coronaviruses, but all we had to go on was what we knew at that moment,” Tuten said.

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