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Hughie Stover to Appeal Upper Big Branch Cover-Up Conviction

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 16, 2012 4:01 PM

Hughie Stover, the security chief found guilty of lying to investigators in the Upper Big Branch mine investigation, will appeal his conviction to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Stover’s attorney, William Wilmoth, claims that District Judge Irene Berger erred in denying the defense’s requests for jury instructions, acquittal, and a new trial. He also alleges that the trial was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct. U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin maintains that Stover received a fair trial, reports The Washington Post.

Stover was the first person convicted in the Upper Big Branch explosion that killed 29 men. He was accused of lying to investigators and ordering a subordinate to destroy documents after the explosion. Witnesses also claimed that Stover instructed mine guards to send out radio alerts whenever inspectors entered Upper Big Branch, which is against the law.

In February, he was sentenced to three years in prison, reports The Associated Press.

At trial, Wilmoth tried to explain Stover's actions as a series of innocent mistakes. He presented Stover as a former law enforcement officer, a Navy and Marines veteran, and a by-the-book employee who became the fall guy in the government's rush to hold someone accountable for the Upper Big Branch explosion, reports the Huffington Post.

Hughie Stover took the stand in his own defense, conceding that he told an employee to throw away documents associated with investigation, and calling it the "stupidest, worst mistake" of his life.

Gary May, the only other Massey employee to face charges in connection with the Upper Big Branch explosion thus far, is set to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the federal government in late March. May is cooperating in the ongoing investigation, according to the AP.

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