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.