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Blankenship Defense Continues to Argue Tape Authentication

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A federal judge has granted Don Blankenship’s attorneys weekend access to recording devices that contain the tapes of phone conversations the former CEO made during his time at Massey Energy after arguing authentication issues Friday.

Blankenship’s team attempted to bring select portions of calls in as evidence under FBI Special Agent Jim Lafferty, a government witness who led the investigation into Massey after the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in 2010.

Lead attorney Bill Taylor argued Thursday the government was placing an undue burden on the defense by forcing them to authenticate tapes the U.S. Attorney’s Office provided to them.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby, however, refused to stipulate to the tapes’ authenticity. Ruby previously introduced and played portions of the tapes for jurors.

Judge Irene Berger ruled Friday the defense will be granted access to the original recording devices in the FBI Office in Charleston over the weekend, allowing them to find a witness to authenticate that the excerpts they chose are in fact portions of the original recordings on those original recording devices. 

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