RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Attorneys for former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship have made their case to an appeals court, arguing that their client was wrongly sent to prison.
Blankenship ran the coal company that owned West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine, where a 2010 explosion killed 29 men. He's currently serving a one-year sentence after being convicted of conspiracy for what prosecutors call willful safety violations before the blast.
Blankenship's attorneys say the conviction was unfair and that Blankenship never willfully violated safety regulations. Prosecutors say otherwise, pointing to evidence that Blankenship dismissed the violations as a cost of doing business.
Wednesday's oral argument before a three-judge panel in Richmond focused almost exclusively on whether the jury instructions made it too easy for jurors to conclude Blankenship acted willfully in violating safety standards.