Witness cries during safety testimony in ex-coal CEO's trial

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A former Massey Energy official wept on the witness stand while describing efforts to address safety problems nine months before an explosion killed 29 miners.

William Ross is one of the government's top witnesses in the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. Ross continued testifying Wednesday about a once-confidential safety assessment he gave of Massey.

Ross cried after reading excerpts of a July 2009 memo in which he wrote he was "so thrilled about a NEW Massey Energy." Ross testified that he believed Massey Energy was going to take "serious" steps to make improvements.

The Upper Big Branch mine in southern West Virginia exploded in April 2010. Blankenship is charged with conspiring to break safety laws at the mine and lying to financial regulators about safety.