Lead defense lawyer Bill Taylor told jurors late this morning that federal prosecutors have no evidence that proves the charges against ex-Massey CEO Don Blankenship.
Taylor said prosecutors may have shown that Blankenship pushed for more coal production, was tough to work for, and made himself and Massey a lot of money.
“If it’s true that he made a lot of money, and he worked for a company that made a lot of money, he’s guilty — I’m wasting your time,” Taylor said.
Taylor began his closing arguments shortly before noon as the jury heard lawyers from both sides summarize their cases.
He led by showing jurors quotes from two key government witnesses — former Massey officials Chris Blanchard and Bill Ross — who provided testimony helpful to the defense. Taylor also belittled testimony from another government witness, David Hughart, saying Hughart came to court from a “halfway house” and made a deal with the government to avoid being prosecuted for stealing from Massey.
Also, Taylor chided the government for not bringing federal mine inspectors to court to testify about citations issued to Massey. He noted that the government got key citations into evidence through the testimony of a U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration computer data analyst.
“The paper is what the government has brought you to prove that Don Blankenship is guilty of conspiracy,” Taylor said.
He said the case against Blankenship is weak, based only on a collection of “maybes.”
“In this country, we don’t convict people — rich or poor — based on maybes,” he said. “It requires proof.”