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UBB family members’ reactions mixed on verdict

Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Kenny Kemp  Dr. Judy Jones Peterson, whose brother, Dean Jones, was killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in April 2010, talks to reporters Thursday outside the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse, in Charleston, after hearing the verdict in the case of ex-Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship.
Charleston Gazette-Mail photo by Kenny Kemp
Dr. Judy Jones Peterson, whose brother, Dean Jones, was killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion in April 2010, talks to reporters Thursday outside the Robert C. Byrd U.S. Courthouse, in Charleston, after hearing the verdict in the case of ex-Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A split verdict — one that brings a maximum of just one year in prison when 30 years loomed, but one billed as the first-ever conviction of a major CEO for workplace safety violations — brought mixed emotions from family members who lost loved ones in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster.

“I wanted Don Blankenship to be convicted here, so, Don Blankenship, you now wear the cloak of criminal shame,” said Dr. Judy Jones Peterson, who lost her brother, Dean Jones, in the 2010 mine explosion. “I didn’t put any weight on the charges. I just wanted someone to step forward and say he is guilty. He is guilty.”

Blankenship was found guilty of a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to violate mine safety standards while he was CEO of Massey Energy Co. in the years before the disaster.

For Shirley Whitt, who lost her brother, Boone Payne, in the explosion, it wasn’t enough.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “Do you think that a misdemeanor is enough for what this man did…

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