CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County jury found a Charleston logger not guilty Wednesday in connection with the cutting down of 360 trees at Coonskin Park after the 2012 derecho.

David Russell Bowen was charged with felonies after working at the park. Prosecutors alleged he knew he was told to take care of 31 trees damaged in the storm but took advantage of the situation and cut down good trees and sold the timber.

Bowen did not deny cutting down 360 trees but said they were damaged when he testified Wednesday. He also told the jury he was given permission to do so.

“I did what I was told to do,” Bowen said.

Bowen said that included taking down trees over a hillside near the Elk River. He said Kanawha County Parks Director Jeff Hutchinson mentioned the possibility of a picnic shelter.

Bowen also told the jury he tried to minimize the damage at the park and that he cut no logging roads. He said crews used the existing park trails to do their work.

He said he made $82,000 on the project. Bowen’s attorney Bill Murray told the jury what his client did was not malicious.

During his closing argument Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach described Bowen as a “kid in a candy store” during his work at Coonskin.

Kanawha County Parks did not have a written contract with Bowen. It was a oral agreement with Parks Director Hutchinson.

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  • CaptainQ

    Looks like the Assistant Prosecutor lost this case because he couldn't 'see the trees for the forest!'

  • cutty77

    The Kanawha County comission. The 3 stooges.

  • Dumb Liberals

    Did the Kanaw-HA commission recently attend a training class in Mingo County? This bunch is a inept as they come. All that's left now is the law suit for malicious persecution.

  • WV Patriot

    It's time to clean house at the Kanawha County Com. Voters need a financial manager not a politico trying to blame that it is someone else's screwup. Voters wait till it comes out how much money was waisted trying to get Prosecutor Plants out of office! Constitution says INNNOCENT till proven guilty. K. Carper and the rest of the Commission need to learn on how to operate a calculator and brush up on our Constitution.

    Don't worry Kanawha Countians, Putnam County has their share of gross mismanagement and corruption too.

    It's time to start marking our score cards for the upcoming election people!

  • Chris

    The parks and rec director needs to be fired by the County Commission. It is ludacris that there was no written contract signed and approved by the county commission. He has cost the county just as much as Mark Plants. The timber alone was worth $100,000 not to mention the damage that was done with logging roads being built in the park. Also, most of the derecho damage and limbs from Bowen's timber job are still on the ground so we still have a huge mess. Why is Kent Carper not being held accountable by the tax payers? This is the second timber mess at Coonskin under his watch. He allowed them to cut the timber all the way down to Elk River Trail when they expanded the runway for Yeager. There was no reason they had to cut down to the river. The county commission is too busy with politics instead of supervising the county.
    He would have been the first person to be grandstanding if Bowen was guilty and now we will hear nothing from him. Actually it is a welcome change to not have to hear his hot air.

    • Stuart

      The Parks & Recreation Director should definitely be fired. This is one fine example of ineptness. How could there ever be justification for the absence of a written contract especially when dealing with thousands of dollars worth of timber. This mess was far reaching tying up not only Kanawha Co employees but also multiple state employees. Lesson learned? I doubt it!

  • RB

    Fire up the grill. Kent Carper and others have some crow to eat!

  • whatamoroon

    We should fire the entire county commission with our votes for not having any over site whatsoever in the day to day operations of Kanawha County Government. Isn't that exactly what they are elected to do?

  • Aaron

    It seems Kanawha County has trouble involving mismanagement in about every branch of government.


  • Jason

    Funny how Kent Carper, repeatedly, slandered Mr. Bowen on the radio over the last year.

    Not to mention the numerous reports on TV and radio that treated Mr. Bowen as guilty until proven innocent.

    How much damage has that character assasination done to Mr. Bowen's business?

  • Karl

    Did the Kanawha County Commissioners approve this work? Isn't Mr. Carper an attorney? No contract? Was there a competative bid process?

  • David

    Giggenbach unwittingly described every politician or government official with regard to tax dollars.

  • ViennaGuy

    Wow - that didn't take long.

    There's no excuse for not having a written contract, particularly when it comes to publicly-owned resources.

  • thornton

    There is a good reason to have a written contract...a contract is a stab at protection for each side.
    However, trees need cut and trees will grow.

    Much ado about little....again.
    Move on...nothing to see here.

    • Larry

      If someone cut 329 trees on your property without your permission, would you think that was no big deal?

      • thornton

        If that happened out of the blue or someone cut across my property line, I would expect legal recourse to provide the route to reimburse me the value of the timber or trees and any other side and associated costs.

        If I told someone to cut some damaged trees on my acreage and the total number of trees was more than that originally reckoned or if the level of damage had not been agreed upon then I would consider part of the blame mine and proceed accordingly.
        And, again if timber was involved, as opposed to just trees, then I would expect to receive fair payment for the xtra work by the forest razor.

        So, the situation could rise to a level of no big deal or let's take care of this and be smarter next time or simply.......oh, well. The devil is in the particulars.
        Probably, if I was like most folks, I would have cast an eye on the progress of the tree cutting as it was ongoing....ding, ding!

        It appeared the logger conducted himself reasonably other than in the number of trees whacked. I suspect what really happened is some folks looked at the finished job that were ignorant to both the need of logging and the value, apart from lucre, that resulted....and they started whining and spitting.

        The main point and takeaway would be that hopefully.......the forest was healthier.

        • Larry

          Yeah, you're right. I'm sure he mostly just took out the low grade, undesirable, species, and didn't just cut what was worth the most $, aka high-grading.

      • joe smith

        I believe the jury ruled that he had permission.

  • The truth

    We I heard they had no written contract I knew this would happen. It became a he said she said situation. They should fire the park official for crummy management.