Emergency vehicles leave the entrance to Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Coal Mine Monday, April 5, 2010 in Montcoal, W.Va. (AP)
BECKLEY, W.Va. -- The former head of security at a West Virginia mine has been convicted of impeding the investigation into a 2010 explosion that killed 29 men.
A federal jury in Beckley found 60-year-old Hughie Elbert Stover guilty Wednesday of lying to investigators and disposing of thousands of security-related documents following the explosion. He was the first person criminally prosecuted in the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in decades.
The jury began deliberating Wednesday morning after hearing two days of testimony in which prosecutors painted Stover as an obstructionist and defense attorneys claimed he was a scapegoat.
The jury was told that investigators retrieved boxes of security documents that Stover ordered dumped into the trash. Stover testified that he did not know he was committing a crime when he ordered the documents be thrown out.