Ex-coal CEO Don Blankenship's trial delayed to October; case moved from Beckley to Charleston



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BECKLEY, West Virginia — A federal judge has agreed to delay the criminal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger on Friday delayed the trial from July 13 to Oct. 1, The Charleston Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1f9fBJm). Berger also ordered the trial moved from Beckley to Charleston.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to violate safety standards at Upper Big Branch, a former Massey Energy mine where an explosion killed 29 men in 2010.

Berger's postponement comes a week after prosecutors and defense attorneys asked her to push back the trial to mid-October. Berger had previously denied the defense attorneys' request to delay the trial until January 2016.

In court filings, Berger said she was "making an effort to err, if at all, on the side of caution," and that she believed "good cause" can be attributed for the delay, rather than any negligence on the attorneys' or court's parts.

In their request for the delay, the attorneys said that barring unforeseen circumstances, they don't intend to seek further continuances.

Defense attorneys had also asked that the trial be moved outside of West Virginia, arguing that he cannot get a fair trial in the state.

Berger decided to keep the trial in-state, but move the trial to Charleston, which is located slightly further away from the site of the explosion.

Charleston is about 45 miles north of the site, while Beckley is about 35 miles to the southeast of the mine.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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