Conviction in Upper Big Branch case upheld

December 14, 2012

A federal appeals court denied an appeal from the former mine security director of the Upper Big Branch Mine who was found guilty of lying to investigators and trying to destroy evidence following the deaths of 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch Mine in April 2010, The Charleston Gazette reported.

The ongoing criminal probe of the explosion that occurred at the then Massey-owned mine uncovered that Hughie Elbert Stover had attempted to hide safety records prosecutors sought as evidence. Stover also was found guilty of lying to federal investigators.

Stover had appealed after being sentenced to three years in jail following his conviction during a jury trial in October 2011.

Stover was specifically accused of denying the practice of providing advance notice of the arrival of mine safety inspectors. The practice is illegal and evidence that it was common at Upper Big Branch has been found in numerous investigations of the mine explosion.

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 upheld the conviction.

Stover had argued that U.S. District Judge Irene Berger improperly denied his motion to suppress statements he made to investigators, a motion to dismiss the charges against him, and a motion for acquittal.

The decision, written by Judge Max O. Cogburn, concluded that there was substantial evidence supporting the jury's conviction of criminal intent in destroying safety records.

"In sum, we affirm the district court's judgment in its entirety," the decision states.



Related article search: