Associated Press Published

Judge Puts Blankenship's Bid to Move Trial on Hold


  A federal judge won’t decide whether to move former coal baron Don Blankenship’s criminal trial until after potential jurors are questioned in Beckley, West Virginia.

Blankenship has asked for a change of venue, arguing that he cannot get a fair trial in southern West Virginia because of prejudicial news coverage. The former Massey Energy CEO was charged with conspiring to violate safety standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine after a blast killed 29 men in 2010. It was the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger said in Friday’s order that Blankenship’s motion will be put on hold until after questioning of potential jurors is completed. That process is set to begin July 9. The trial is scheduled for July 13.