Trial begins for man charged in coal executive’s killing
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — A trial began this week for the man accused of pulling the trigger in the 2016 fatal shooting of a longtime coal executive in West Virginia.
Mingo County Prosecutor Duke Jewell said in opening statements Monday that 22-year-old Anthony Raheem Arriaga of Ohio told police he killed Bennett K. Hatfield in a plan to steal his SUV and sell it for parts, news outlets reported.
One of Arriaga’s defense attorneys, Jane Moran, said that statement shouldn’t be interpreted as a confession because police didn’t detail the circumstances around it, and Arriaga had told police he didn’t want to be interviewed. Moran also said authorities didn’t investigate if 20-year-old Brandon Lee Fitzpatrick, who is also charged in the death, could have shot Hatfield.
Hatfield, who resigned in 2015 as Patriot Coal’s president and CEO, was visiting his wife’s gravesite in Maher when he was shot in May 2016.
Jewell said Arriaga left a trail of evidence as he fled the graveyard on foot, after Fitzpatrick took off alone in Hatfield’s car.
“This is the cold-blooded murderer version of Hansel and Gretel,” Jewell said.
Arriaga pleaded guilty to murder and robbery charges in April, but later withdrew his plea. He is charged with first-degree murder.
The trial began with jurors traveling by bus to view locations at the cemetery.
Fitzpatrick’s trial is scheduled for next month. He is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy.