Don Blankenship

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra continues her conversation with the sisters of one of the miners killed six years ago this week in the Upper Big Branch mine and what they will tell the judge this morning at the sentencing of Don Blankenship, who’s company owned the mine.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On Wednesday morning, a federal judge will decide whether former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship will serve prison time or face a monetary fine after being convicted of a misdemeanor. 

Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to willfully violate federal mine safety laws in December, but one miner's family says even the prison time will not bring complete closure.

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra talks with the sisters of one of the miners killed six years ago today at the Upper Big Branch mine.  Also, Roxy Todd talks with Catherine Moore about her radio documentary that airs tonight. 

These stories coming up on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On April 5, 2010, Howard "Boone" Payne went to work at the Upper Big Branch mine just as he had for years. He and 28 other men made their way miles underground to the mine's long wall operation, spent hours mining coal, and prepared to wrap up their day when the unthinkable happened- an explosion that took all of their lives.

Six years later, Boone's sisters Shirley Whitt and Sherry Keeney Depoy say there is still a void left in their family that cannot be filled. 

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Ninety-four people are seeking restitution from former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship as he prepares for sentencing on Wednesday.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports Blankenship's defense team filed a motion late Friday asking the federal court judge to deny the claims. The motion says the claims seek money that the restitution statute does not authorize.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Prosecutors want a year in prison and a $250,000 fine for convicted ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who ran a West Virginia coal mine that was the site of a deadly explosion.

In a sentencing memorandum in federal court Monday, prosecutors said a shorter sentence could only be interpreted as declaring that mine safety laws aren't to be taken seriously.

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Lawyers for convicted ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship say he can withhold personal financial information under a constitutional right to remain silent during sentencing.

Blankenship's attorneys cited the 5th Amendment in a Beckley federal court filing Friday.

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

Attorneys for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship are asking a federal judge to either delay his April sentencing or put off deciding the amount of a federal fine. 

In December, Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws linked to a 2010 mine explosion that killed 29 men.  Blankenship could face up to a year in prison for the charge. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, reporter Roxy Todd talks with artist Jeff Pierson about his assignment to cover the courtroom trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.  The story on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A judge has reduced ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's bond and dropped his travel restrictions after his conviction.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Clarke VanDervort in Beckley reduced Blankenship's $5 million bond to $1 million Monday.

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Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Some 24 hours after a verdict was handed down in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said he is not disappointed in the outcome. In fact, he's calling the conviction on one misdemeanor count a victory.

After the announcement of the final verdict in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, jurors were escorted from the courthouse through a backdoor. A few spoke with members of the media about their decision and what they experienced during the 10 days of deliberations.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors returned a split verdict Thursday in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship finding him guilty on a misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate federal mine safety laws. 

In the final episode of the podcast "Blankenship on Trial," host Scott Finn discusses the verdict, its implications and what comes next with West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hissam.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. Be sure to keep refreshing this post for the latest. For more, follow @wvpublicnews on Twitter. For more on the verdict, see this post. For other reactions from government and mining industry officials, click here.

Blankenship Trial
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors have found former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship guilty of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards, a misdemeanor charge that carries up to a year of jail time. Deliberations lasted about 10 days.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Federal District Judge Irene Berger issued an Allen charge to jurors in the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship Tuesday morning.

 

In the charge, which is given to prevent a hung jury, the judge urged jurors to consider both the majority and minority opinions as they continue to deliberate. Berger also added an instruction that if jurors can reach an agreement on some of the charges, they may return a partial verdict.

Associated Press

Editor's Note: This is a developing story. Be sure to keep refreshing this post for the latest. For more, follow @wvpublicnews on Twitter. For more on the verdict, see this post. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors have begun deliberations in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam detail the closing arguments in the case with host Beth Vorhees in this special episode of the podcast recorded as a part of West Virginia Public Broadcasting's morning news show, West Virginia Morning.

Jeff Pierson

Lead defense attorney Bill Taylor said the government has provided no solid evidence to back its claim that former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship conspired to violate federal mine safety laws and lied about his company's safety records to investors and securities officials.

"Paper is what the government has brought you," Taylor said in the first half of his closing argument Tuesday morning. "No witnesses, no proof."

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As jurors begin to deliberate a verdict in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, all eyes in West Virginia turn to Charleston.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

In his closing argument Tuesday morning, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin called former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship an "outlaw" who ran a massive criminal conspiracy at the company's Upper Big Branch mine. 

An April 2010 explosion at that mine killed 29 men and sparked a federal investigation into Massey and Blankenship himself. 

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Defense attorneys chose to rest their case Monday morning without calling a single witness to aid in their defense of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

In a special edition of the podcast "Blankenship on Trial," host Scott Finn discusses the surprising turn of events with reporter Ashton Marra and Charleston attorney Mike Hissam. 

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship will soon be asked to deliver a verdict.

At 10:10 a.m. Monday, the prosecution rested its case. In a surprising move just moments after a bench conference, the defense also rested without calling any witnesses to the stand.

AP Photo

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.

Don Blankenship
Joel Ebert / The Charleston Gazette-Mail

After 31 days of presenting witness testimony and hundreds of pieces of evidence, the U.S. Attorney's Office was set to rest its case Thursday against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. That was, until a motion from the defense to allow them to use a government witness to bring in more evidence threw the prosecution, once again, off course. 

In this week's podcast, host Scott Finn discusses that motion with West Virginia Public Broadcasting's Ashton Marra and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hissam as well as the government's arguments surrounding a 2010 Massey Securities Exchange Commission filing and defense motions for acquittal.

Don Blankenship
Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The U.S. Attorney's Office has called its final witness in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. FBI Special Agent Jim Lafferty took the stand Tuesday morning. 

The government guided Lafferty through a number of documents he testified he'd reviewed during the course of his investigation, including a number of daily violation reports, filings with the federal Securities Exchange Commission and examination books kept by miners at the Upper Big Branch mine. 

Blankenship Trial
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

A former high-ranking Massey Energy official has taken the stand in the trial of former company CEO Don Blankenship.

John Poma was vice president and chief administrative officer at Massey Energy when the Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia exploded in April 2010, killing 29 men.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The sixth full week of the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has been almost exclusively focused on Bill Ross, a key witness for the prosecution.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Jurors heard emotional testimony from former Massey Energy safety official Bill Ross who broke down on the stand Wednesday morning as he discussed his 2009 recommendations to improve safety at the mining company.

Ross began his second day of testimony Wednesday in the trial of ex-Massey CEO Don Blankenship.

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