Ex-coal CEO's defense slows trial with government witness

AP News
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Posted: Oct 28, 2015 6:06 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A former coal boss' attorneys have slowed the pace of his trial by using a key government witness to contend that his company prioritized safety.

In Charleston federal court Wednesday, ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's attorneys again questioned former Massey subsidiary president Christopher Blanchard. Blanchard has testified since Oct. 22 under an immunity agreement with the government. Blankenship's attorneys began questioning him Oct. 23, and will resume Thursday.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break mine safety laws and lying to financial regulators about safety at Upper Big Branch Mine, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 men. Blanchard's subsidiary oversaw the mine.

Defense attorneys have asked Blanchard about 170 memos and other documents pointing to safety priorities.

Blanchard has testified he didn't conspire with Blankenship to break safety laws.