Trial begins for 2nd man accused in coal executive’s killing

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, December 5, 2017

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — The trial has begun for the second of two men accused in the deadly shooting of a coal executive in West Virginia last year.

Monday was the first day of trial for Brandon Lee Fitzpatrick, 20, of Louisa, Kentucky, news outlets report. Fitzpatrick is charged with offenses including first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy in the death of Bennett K. Hatfield, 59.

Mingo County Prosecutor Duke Jewell said Fitzpatrick and Anthony Raheem Arriaga, 22, of Delphos, Ohio, killed Hatfield as part of a scheme to steal his GMC Yukon Denali and sell its parts. Hatfield was shot while visiting his wife’s gravesite at a cemetery in Maher on May 22, 2016, Jewell said.

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Arriaga was convicted on Oct. 21 of first-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy. He is expected to get life in prison at his sentencing on Dec. 12.

Fitzpatrick’s defense attorney, Susan Van Zant, said Arriaga acted alone in killing Hatfield. “It does not take two to pull a trigger,” Van Zant said.

Jewell said Fitzpatrick planned the crimes and encouraged Arriaga saying, “Do it,” repeatedly and, “don’t leave any witnesses.”

Hatfield had resigned in 2015 as president and CEO of Patriot Coal. At the time of his death he was operating his own mining consulting business, Coal Strategies LLC. He had also been CEO of International Coal Group and was an executive at Massey Energy.