WILLIAMSON – The second suspect in the murder of Ben Hatfield, who was murdered last month at a Mingo County cemetery, appeared before Judge Miki Thompson for his arraignment on Monday morning.
Brandon Fitzpatrick, 18, of Louisa, Ky., was arrested in northern Kentucky on unrelated drug charges back in May.
He pleaded not guilty after the charges were read by Judge Thompson.
Thompson ordered the homicide suspect held without bond. He is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Thompson ordered $250,000 bond on that charge, but Fitzpatrick will still be held for the felony First Degree Murder charge.
The young suspect was extradited and finally transported back to West Virginia on Friday afternoon by the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department. Fitzpatrick is being held in the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden.
When he first was brought into the courtroom, Fitzpatrick told Judge Thompson that he was going to be represented by Claude Smith, an attorney from Charleston, W.Va. However Smith was not present. Fitzpatrick was then escorted back to the holding area by court bailiff Yogi Croaff.
The court clerk contacted Smith and he agreed that it would be okay for a court appointed attorney to be named for the arraignment hearing. Judge Thompson appointed Williamson attorney Jeff Simpkins, who was present for another hearing, to represent Fitzpatrick.
Simpkins met with the suspect and then he was brought back into the courtroom for his arraignment.
The state was represented by Assistant Prosecutor Josh Ferrell.
Judge Thompson stated that this was a capital offense and these were serious charges.
The other suspect, Anthony Arriaga, 20 of Delphos, Ohio, is also being held without bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 22 in Mingo County Magistrate Court.
Fitzpatrick and Arriaga, allegedly friends, are both accused of murdering Hatfield, a well-known former coal executive. The shooting occurred at the Mountain View Memory Gardens located at Maher on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Hatfield, a native of the Tug Valley area, was there to clean and decorate the grave of his late wife when he was shot in the back and died at the scene.
Investigators for the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department stated the two young men had intentions of stealing Hatfield’s Denali SUV so they could sell it for money. Instead the robbery apparently went wrong and Fitzpatrick drove away from the scene.
Allegedly Arriaga walked up behind Hatfield and shot twice at Hatfield as he ran toward the river bank, with the fatal shot hitting him once in the back.
Sheriff Smith says Hatfield ran for cover over the riverbank.
Investigators say Arriaga ran over the riverbank after he panicked. He then went to a nearby home asking for a ride to Wayne County and some clothing, after he apparently fell or jumped into the Tug River. Investigators say Fitzpatrick thought Arriaga was going to take Hatfield’s keys and follow him to an arranged destination. However they did not steal Hatfield’s vehicle or wallet.
Hatfield was reported missing by his girlfriend. After pinging his cell phone, law enforcement found Hatfield’s body at the cemetery.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)