Former state Representative Will Dismukes was set to be sentenced this week after being convicted of first-degree theft of property in relation to a theft scheme from his former employer.
But court documents show that the sentencing trial has been moved to July 14, noting multiple factors for the delay.
One of those factors is the suicide of Bill Dismukes, Will’s father, just one day after Will’s conviction.
“This has put an enormous strain on Mr. Dismukes and his family,” Dismukes’ representation wrote in the motion. “Undersigned counsel feels that the death of Mr. Bill Dismukes has greatly impacted Mr. Dismukes and has possibly inhibited him from assisting the undersigned in a way necessary to represent Mr. Dismukes at sentencing.”
Bill Dismukes was a key witness for the state just days before his death, although Bill testified from the stand that his son is an honest man and didn’t believe he was guilty of the theft. The prosecution used a pair of voicemail messages from Bill Dismukes left with the Montgomery County district attorney’s office as key pieces of evidence to support its case that Will had stolen thousands of dollars from his former employer, Weiss Flooring Company.
Bill Dismukes discredited the voicemail on the stand, claiming that he was drunk and mad at his son at the time he left the messages and that he would have done anything to hurt him.
“Drunk words are sober truths,” prosecutor Sherri Mazur told the jury in closing arguments.
The prosecution also made it clear that they don’t believe Bill Dismukes had any knowledge of the theft scheme while it was occurring, despite playing a role.
The jury found that Will Dismukes, formally William Dismukes III, would fraudulently fill out pay applications for his father, formally William Dismukes Jr., and then deposit the checks in his own bank account, cashing out the portion owed to his father for the work actually completed.
As Bill Dismukes told the DA’s office in the voicemail, “I gave him permission to cash my checks; I didn’t give him permission to steal $60,000 to $80,000.”
Following his conviction, Will told APR that he stands behind his innocence.
In addition to the death of his father, the court document said Dismukes’ attorneys did not believe a presentencing investigation would be completed in time for the May 4 sentencing date.
In a separate filing, Dismukes’ attorneys asked the court to take notice of certain mitigating factors in his sentencing, stating that “the defendant has a strong positive support system in the community or has exhibited a positive employment history.”
Under Alabama law, Dismukes could be sentenced to 2 to 20 years in prison as the jury found two “aggravating factors” that allow the judge to go outside the state’s presumptive sentencing guidelines. Under the guidelines, Dismukes would have only been eligible for under two years in county jail, probation or community corrections. Those options remain on the table in addition to prison time.