- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The latest developments in the federal trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. All times are local:

5:25 p.m.

After the first day of jury selection, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship left the courtroom with his legal team just after 5 p.m.

Asked by The Associated Press how the first day went, Blankenship laughed and said, “Don’t know.”

Jury selection finished just before 5 p.m. Thursday and will resume Friday at 9 a.m. for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s criminal trial. On the live video, the judge muted the microphone on essentially all questions and responses for prospective jurors. Few words were audible.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail and West Virginia Public Broadcasting Inc. filed a motion Wednesday looking to ensure open access to jury selection, a day before access was severely limited.

Prosecutors and the court would not say how many jurors were questioned and how many were sent home Thursday.


12:40 p.m.

A handful of family members of the 29 miners killed in the Upper Big Branch disaster are attending the first day of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s federal trial in Charleston.

Betty Harrah’s brother, Steven Harrah, died in the April 2010 explosion. She says the families are glad that the case has reached this point.

She says it’s something “we never thought would happen.”


12 p.m.

Media and members of the public are watching jury selection for the trial of ex- Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on a live video feed in another courtroom.

As Blankenship’s trial began Thursday in Charleston federal court, the U.S. Marshal’s Office said there was no room in the courtroom for any member of the media where jury selection was being held.

The live feed included little sound while attorneys for both sides huddled around Judge Irene Berger as she questioned potential jurors one-by-one. The camera angle did not show Blankenship.

8:35 a.m.

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has arrived for the start of his federal trial on charges that he conspired to break safety laws and lied to financial regulators about safety practices.

Blankenship stepped out of a minivan that stopped in front of Charleston’s federal courthouse Thursday. Wearing a suit and striped tie, Blankenship was accompanied by three homeland security officers.

As he entered the courthouse on the first day of jury selection, a reporter asked whether he was innocent of the charges. Blankenship smiled and said “yes.”

The 65-year-old Blankenship faces up to three decades in prison if convicted over how he ran the Upper Big Branch Mine, which exploded in 2010, killing 29 miners.


This 5:25 p.m. update in this story has been corrected to say West Virginia Public Broadcasting Inc. instead of Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

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