WILLIAMSON, W.Va. – The second of the two murder suspects charged in the shooting death of coal executive Ben Hatfield had his preliminary hearing Wednesday morning in Mingo County Magistrate Court.
Anthony Arriaga, 20, of Gibsonburg, Ohio, is charged with 1st Degree murder and Conspiracy in the case. He appeared before Mingo County Magistrate Barry Marcum.
On Tuesday, Brandon Fitzpatrick, 18, of Louisa, Ky., waived his preliminary hearing. He is also charged with 1st Degree Murder and Conspiracy in the shooting death of Hatfield.
Both are being held without bond at the Southwestern Regional Jail at Holden, W.Va.
Mingo County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Ferrell represented the state in the preliminary hearing Wednesday morning with Magistrate Barry Marcum presiding. Dave Foley, of the Mingo County Public Defender’s Office, represented Arriaga.
The State only called one witness, deputy Allen Mounts of the MCSD. Mounts told the court that Arriaga “admitted his role in a video statement.”
The Mingo County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the case. They state it was Arriaga who pulled the trigger in the shooting death that took place at Mountain View Memory Gardens located at Maher, W.Va. in Mingo County.
Foley argued that there was no “factual statements” in the hearing or was there any “corroboration of physical evidence.”
Foley also used the word “hearsay” when objecting to deputy Mounts testimony. He also said there was “no first-hand knowledge.” His objections were overruled by Magistrate Marcum.
The name of the man who transported Arriaga to Wayne County after the alleged murder came out in the preliminary hearing. He is Ronnie Spurlock, who lives near the cemetery. He was apparently approached by Arriaga after the alleged crime saying he needed a ride to Wayne County.
After the alleged shooting of Hatfield in the back, Arriaga went over the river bank and removed his clothing. He then went a few hundred yards down river and went up into the yard of a nearby residence just north of the cemetery, according to Sheriff James Smith. He told Spurlock that he had fallen in the river and asked if he could get some clothes. He also said he would pay for a ride to Wayne County, W.Va.
From that point, he contacted a friend, Ricky Peterson of Wayne, W.Va. Peterson allegedly helped get transportation for Arriaga back to Allen County, Ohio. Peterson could also face charges in the case for accessory after the fact.
Magistrate Marcum found that there is probable cause and enough evidence in the case and sent it to the grand jury.
The charges against Arriaga and Fitzpatrick will now be presented to a Mingo County grand jury for possible indictments of 1st Degree murder and Conspiracy to commit murder.
(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.)