- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Attorneys for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship say prosecutors have given them more than 4 million pages of documents without identifying any information that the government plans to rely on at his trial.

In a court filing, the attorneys said they will not have time to review all the documents to find such information before the trial, which is scheduled for July. They asked U.S. District Judge Irene Berger to order prosecutors to identify all documents that they intend to use, along with evidence favorable to Blankenship.

Blankenship’s attorneys also want Berger to order prosecutors to identify his written statements and audio recordings of his conversations that are relevant to the case.

“While it may appear that the government has made a generous production so as to ensure compliance with its discovery obligations, in reality, its voluminous and overbroad production makes the defense burden more onerous,” the attorneys wrote in a motion filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Beckley.

The massive amount of documents does not meet prosecutors’ obligations required by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Brady vs. Maryland case, the attorneys said. That ruling says prosecutors violate a defendant’s constitutional rights by not turning over evidence that could prove a person’s innocence.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said Wednesday that his office will file a written response within a week. He declined further comment.

The Charleston Daily Mail (https://bit.ly/1DVV7IS) first reported the defense’s filing.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to violate safety standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine, where an explosion killed 29 coal miners in 2010. It was the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

Four investigations found that worn and broken cutting equipment created a spark that ignited accumulations of coal dust and methane gas. Broken and clogged water sprayers allowed the flare-up to become an inferno.

Blankenship has asked for a change of venue, arguing that he cannot get a fair trial in southern West Virginia because of prejudicial news coverage. His attorneys have suggested moving the trial to Martinsburg or Baltimore.


Information from: Charleston Daily Mail, https://www.charlestondailymail.com

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