Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Police: Motive Was Money ; Hatfield's Alleged Killer Arraigned, Held on 1st-Degree Murder Charge

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Police: Motive Was Money ; Hatfield's Alleged Killer Arraigned, Held on 1st-Degree Murder Charge

Article excerpt

Two young men saw Ben Hatfield's luxury SUV Sunday morning and saw dollar signs, according to police. They could now face life in prison. Chief Deputy Joe Smith, of the Mingo County Sheriff's Office, said Thursday that Anthony R. Arriaga, of Lima, Ohio, and Brandon Fitzpatrick, of Louisa, Kentucky, had talked about committing a robbery before they saw Hatfield's GMC Yukon Denali in Mountain View Memory Gardens, a cemetery in Mingo County, and decided they had found their target.

Arriaga, 20, and Fitzpatrick, 18, are charged with first-degree murder in Hatfield's death. Fitzpatrick also is charged with conspiracy, Smith said.

Arriaga was arraigned Thursday in Mingo Circuit Court, in Williamson. Circuit Judge Miki Thompson ordered him held without bail and set a preliminary hearing for June 3.

Smith interviewed Arriaga before his arraignment. According to the chief deputy, Arriaga admitted to pulling the trigger.

"He understands he made a mistake, Smith said. "He was cooperative. He was remorseful. He teared up several times during the interview. He's a 20-year-old kid who, within 30 seconds, has destroyed his entire life and another family.

Hatfield's body was found at about 6:30 a.m. Monday, over a hill by a river bank at the cemetery in Maher, outside Williamson.

Police said they believe Hatfield, a longtime coal company executive, was shot in the back Sunday while he cleaned an in-law's grave marker. He already had cleaned the grave of his late wife, Debbie, who died of breast cancer in 2009.

After Hatfield was shot, he was able to make it about 50 to 60 yards away, to the edge of the Tug Fork River, where he collapsed and died.

Police said they believe Fitzpatrick fled the scene in a vehicle. They say Arriaga was supposed to steal the Denali, then meet back up with Fitzpatrick. Instead, they say, Arriaga panicked and ran over a bank, straight into the river. …

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