WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — A jury on Friday convicted the accused trigger man in the 2016 fatal shooting of a longtime coal executive in West Virginia.
According to news outlets, 22-year-old Anthony Raheem Arriaga of Ohio was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of conspiracy in the death of Bennett “Ben” Hatfield.
Hatfield, who resigned in 2015 as Patriot Coal’s president and CEO, was visiting his wife’s gravesite in Maher when he was shot.
A first-degree murder conviction carries a life prison sentence in West Virginia. Jurors were still deliberating whether Arriaga should be eligible to receive parole in 15 years.
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In opening statements, Mingo County Prosecutor Duke Jewell said Arriaga told police he killed Hatfield in May 2016 in a plan to steal his SUV and sell it for parts.
Arriaga’s attorney, Jane Moran, countered in court that authorities didn’t investigate if accused co-conspirator 20-year-old Brandon Fitzpatrick, of Kentucky, could have shot Hatfield.
The case was handed over to jurors on the fifth day of the trial. The jury returned with the conviction after about four and a half hours of deliberation.
Dennis Hatfield testified in court Tuesday about finding his brother’s body near a river next to the cemetery.
Arriaga had said he had been using drugs and had little sleep over several days.
In April, Arriaga pleaded guilty to murder and robbery charges in April, but later withdrew his plea. He said at trial that Fitzpatrick was the one who shot the gun.
Fitzpatrick heads to trial on a murder charge next month.