WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — An Ohio man entered a guilty plea Tuesday in connection to the May 2016 death of a longtime coal executive.
Anthony Arriaga of Gibsonburg, Ohio, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and robbery charges connected to the death of Ben Hatfield.
Hatfield was the former CEO of International Coal Group and Patriot Coal.
Arriaga said he had been without sleep for four days when he met Brandon Fitzpatrick, 18, of Louisa, Kentucky. He also said he only knew Fitzpatrick for four days prior to the murder.
Arriaga said on the day of Hatfield’s death, Fitzpatrick went to Fitzpatrick’s home to ask his dad for bullets to a gun which belonged to Arriaga.
Fitzpatrick drove to the Mountain View Memory Gardens in Williamson to visit his grandmother’s grave with Arriaga riding as a passenger.
According to Arriaga, the two saw Hatfield’s black SUV, to which Fitzpatrick said they could get from $10,000 to $15,000 from a “chop shop.”
Hatfield was at the cemetery to decorate his wife’s grave in honor of the upcoming Memorial Day.
Arriaga said the two walked toward Hatfield, with Fitzpatrick urging Arriaga to fire the gun toward Hatfield. Once he was within 10 feet from Hatfield, Fitzpatrick encouraged Arriaga even more to shoot.
Arriaga fired the gun, to which Hatfield stood up before falling to the ground.
Arriaga said Fitzpatrick got into the car and left, resulting in him running away from the scene.
Arriaga and Fitzpatrick had plans to go to Ohio to Arriaga’s mom’s house. Authorities arrested Arriaga at his home in Ohio. Officers arrested Fitzpatrick in Elsmere, Kentucky during a traffic stop.
Arriaga faces life in prison on the murder charge and 40 years for a robbery charge. He will be sentenced May 17.
Fitzpatrick was scheduled to be in court on Thursday to begin pre-trail proceedings, but that has been moved to a later date.