Day 3: Trial continues for second defendant in coal executive’s murder

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WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — The murder trial for 20-year-old Brandon Lee Fitzpatrick, of Louisa, continued Wednesday in Mingo County Circuit Court in Williamson.

Fitzpatrick is accused of first-degree murder, first degree robbery and conspiracy in the shooting death of former coal company executive Ben Hatfield. Hatfield was allegedly shot in the back while cleaning his wife’s and in-law’s graves at Mountain View Memory Gardens in Maher Memorial Day Weekend last year.

Fitzpatrick’s alleged co-conspirator 22-year-old Anthony Raheem Arriaga was found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and two counts of conspiracy in October.

The state continued presenting witnesses Wednesday with the majority of the day focusing on Chief Field Deputy Joe Smith with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith transported Fitzpatrick back to West Virginia after he was arrested in Kenton County, Kentucky.

Smith video-recorded an interview with Fitzpatrick in the police cruiser on the way to the Southwestern Regional Jail. That recording – along with several other audio recordings from the Kenton County Detention Center – were played aloud for the jury.

In the video recording, Fitzpatrick told Smith the two were following a red Mustang on Route 52. He said Arriaga planned to bump the back of the car in order to get it to stop. He continued by saying once the car was stopped, Arriaga planned to take the car to a “chop shop” in order to sell it’s parts. At some point, according to the video statement, the two lost the red Mustang and that’s when they spotted a black SUV parked by the cemetery. Fitzpatrick claimed once Arriaga got out of the vehicle, he heard one gunshot and left him at the cemetery.

Cross examination of Chief Field Deputy Smith started just before lunch.

The state handed it over to the defense a couple of hours after lunch.

The trial is expected to continue throughout the rest of the week.