Call to uphold UBB official's conviction

US ATTORNEY for West Virginia’s Southern District Booth Goodwin is arguing that a former Upper Big Branch mine official’s conviction for lying to investigators and destroying documents late last year should be upheld, just weeks before the worker’s appeal case is set to be heard in Virginia.
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Booth Goodwin

Donna Schmidt

In a 68-page brief submitted late last week, Goodwin said investigators, the trial judge and federal prosecutors in the case against Hughie Elbert Stover acted properly and there was no merit to Stover’s claims that US district judge Irene Berger acted in error by refusing to throw out a key interview with investigators.

He said she also did not err in her refusal to dismiss the charges and acquit Stover earlier this year.

“[T]hese factors – the circumstantial evidence, defendant’s lack of credibility and his concocted excuses for his actions – were considered by the jury in this case and would support a similar guilty verdict by any other rational jury,” Goodwin said of the initial guilty finding Stover is appealing.

“The motions for judgment of acquittal and for new trial … were properly denied by the district court.

“[T]he United States requests that the district court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress, motion to dismiss and motions for judgment of acquittal or new trial be affirmed.”

Stover, sentenced in 2011 to three years in jail – one of the stiffest punishments ever for a mine safety case – is still free while waiting to have his appeal heard.

Oral arguments have been set for September 21.

Only one other person to date has been criminally charged in the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 workers.

Former superintendent Gary May pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is currently cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. He will be sentenced in October.

UBB was owned at the time of the blast by Massey Energy.

Massey was acquired by Alpha Natural Resources last June and the mine has been sealed.

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