The former head of security at a West Virginia mine is guilty of impeding the investigation into a 2010 explosion that killed 29 men.
A federal jury in Beckley found Hughie Elbert Stover, 60, guilty of lying to investigators and disposing of thousands of security-related documents following the explosion. He was the first person criminally prosecuted in the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in decades.
The jury began deliberating Wednesday morning after hearing two days of testimony in which prosecutors painted Stover as an obstructionist and defense attorneys claimed he was a scapegoat.
The jury learned investigators retrieved boxes of security documents Stover ordered dumped into the trash. Stover testified he did not know he was committing a crime when he ordered others to throw away the documents.
Meanwhile, the union issued a report on the disaster saying a sabotaged methane sensor may be one of the causes of the deadly explosion.
The United Mine Workers (UMW), designated as the miners’ representative in the investigation of the disaster at the non-union Upper Big Branch mine, was harshly critical of the owner, Massey Energy, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miner’s Health, Safety and Training. The UMW titled their report “Industrial Homicide.”