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Delegate calls for return of death penalty following Hatfield death

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A member of the House of Delegates promised Tuesday to introduce a bill in next year’s legislative session to bring back the death penalty in West Virginia.

Del. Rupie Phillips (D-Logan) told fellow House members the reason is last week’s murder of former coal executive Ben Hatfield.

“He was a friend of man and a supporter of mine. He was the (victim) of a cowardly act of some druggies. He was a fine guy,” Phillips said of Hatfield.

Capital punishment needs to return because of such acts, Phillips said.

“West Virginia should not stand for something like this.”

While Phillips was giving his brief floor speech, one of the three men charged in connection with Hatfield’s death was in Wayne County Magistrate Court for a preliminary hearing.

Ricky Peterson is named in a number of charges including being an accessory after the murder. He allegedly helped alleged shooter Anthony Arriaga after Hatfield was shot and killed in a Mingo County cemetery during an alleged robbery attempt.

A magistrate found enough evidence Tuesday to forward charges against Peterson to the Wayne County grand jury. Peterson is also charged with obstructing/resisting an officer and giving false information to a trooper.

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