WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — A 12-member Mingo County jury heard opening statements and took a site visit Monday in the first day of the Anthony Arriaga murder trial.
Arriaga, 22 of Gibsonburg, Ohio, allegedly shot and killed longtime coal executive Ben Hatfield in May 2016 at Mountain View Memory Gardens in Maher. Arriaga and co-defendant Brandon Lee Fitzpatrick, 20, were allegedly trying to steal Hatfield’s upscale SUV and sell it for parts. Fitzpatrick is scheduled to go on trial next month.
According to a story filed by Williamson Daily News reporter Travis Crum, Mingo County Prosecutor Duke Jewell told jury members Monday they would hear Arriaga’s own words on why he killed Hatfield.
“You are going to hear from his own mouth what he did,” Jewell said, relating to a confession Arriaga gave to police soon after his arrest.
But in her opening statement, defense attorney Jane Moran told the jury not to put too much stock in what Arriaga told police.
“I ask you to look for any evidence that any effort was made by sheriff’s deputies or by police to see whether the other person in the car could have fired that shot,” Moran said.
Hatfield was at the cemetery preparing the graves of his wife and in-laws for Memorial Day. Jewell said Monday Hatfield ran for his life after Arriaga’s first shot and a few moments later was shot in the back.
“He fired until there were no more bullets,” Jewell said.
The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning in Williamson.