4 days of deliberations and no decision in Blankenship trial

AP News
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Posted: Nov 23, 2015 5:50 PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Jurors left court Monday after a fourth full day of deliberating without reaching a verdict in the federal trial of ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

If jurors don't make a decision Tuesday, they will be off the rest of the week for Thanksgiving and return Nov. 30.

Last week, jurors asked Judge Irene Berger how long they should deliberate because they couldn't agree. The following day, the jury requested more information about the wording of a statement included in the second and third counts of a three-count indictment. Prosecutors took that as a sign that the jury might have be progressing in its closed-door talks.

On Monday, jurors had no additional questions and left in the early evening.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break safety laws and defrauding mine regulators at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch Mine, and lying to financial regulators and investors about safety. The coal mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 men.

The case is the centerpiece of a wide-spanning investigation into Massey that began after the explosion. The probe produced four other convictions up the Massey corporate chain, leading to Blankenship's indictment in November 2014. Relatives of the miners who died have long called for Blankenship to go to prison.

Prosecutors contended Blankenship was a micromanager who cared more about money than safety.

Blankenship's defense team said the government offered no evidence he was involved in a conspiracy.