Coal Tattoo

Lead defense attorney Bill Taylor this afternoon continued his closing argument, telling jurors over and over that federal prosecutors haven’t made their case against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Taylor also argued that evidence the defense brought out through its cross-examination of government witness should prompt jurors to acquit Blankenship.

For example, Taylor cited former Massey insider Bill Ross’s testimony that he met with Blankenship and believed the former CEO was genuinely concerned about reducing violations.

“Bill Ross is Exhibit A that Don Blankenship is innocent,” Taylor said as he finished his closing following a lunch break for jurors.

Taylor also argued that Blankenship should not be held responsible for a longstanding practice of coal mine guards of alerting workers underground when government inspectors arrived.

“The government wants you to convict Don Blankenship just because the practice of advance notice exists,” Taylor told jurors. “It takes this piece of coal mining culture and wants you to convict Don Blankenship because of it.”

Taylor also argued that it was not a crime for Blankenship to not believe that hiring more miners was the answer to the Upper Big Branch Mine’s safety problems. “How many more was he supposed to hire to not be a criminal?”