Hatfield family decides to accept the outcomes of trials
WILLIAMSON — The twin brother of slain coal executive Bennett K. Hatfield said his family has accepted the outcomes of two trials for men found guilty of his murder. However, his family may never fully heal knowing one day they may walk free.
Dennis Hatfield said Mingo County prosecutors did the best they could in bringing Anthony Raheem Arriaga and Brandon Lee Fitzpatrick to justice for the May 23, 2016, slaying of his brother.
Arriaga, 22, of Delphos, Ohio, was found guilty of first-degree murder, robbery and two counts of conspiracy following a trial in October. Fitzpatrick, 20, of Louisa, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in a plea agreement accepted Thursday.
Both men were sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Arriaga was given an additional one to five years each for the conspiracy charges.
“We will accept the situation as it’s given because we can’t bring Ben back,” Dennis Hatfield said. “We hope maybe this somehow keeps someone else from getting hurt down the road.”
His family has gone through a traumatic experience, he said.
“I am the one that found him,” he told the court on Thursday. “No family should have to go through what we have gone through.”
Bennett Hatfield was at the Mountain View Memory Garden cleaning off his wife’s and in-laws’ graves when Arriaga and Fitzpatrick spotted his Yukon Denali SUV parked nearby, police said. Police believe the two men conspired to steal the SUV and later resell it for spare parts. Fitzpatrick told the court Arriaga fired a handgun at Hatfield’s back as he ran away.
A desperate search to find Bennett Hatfield ended when his twin brother found his body lying in a wooded area behind the cemetery.
“To murder a defenseless and innocent person beside the highway in broad daylight,” Dennis Hatfield said. “It doesn’t get more evil than that.”
Hatfield’s daughters gave emotional testimony during both men’s sentencing hearings. His oldest daughter, Ashley Stelly, said she sees both her mother and father when she looks at her 6-month-old daughter. Her father did not get to live to see his only grandchild, she said.
She would never feel safe again knowing Arriaga and Fitzpatrick may one day earn parole.
“I will be at every hearing in the future letting my voice be heard because my father’s can no longer be,” she said.
Dennis Hatfield said his tight-knit family would continue to support each other in their grief. The holidays have been particularly difficult without his brother around, but his family remains strong in their faith.
“God is going to take care of us,” he said. “We are going to be OK.”