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 Post subject: Judge weighs miners’ requests to drop charges
PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:28 pm 
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Location: From Schuylkill County, PA living in Phoenix, AZ
Judge weighs miners’ requests to drop charges

BY PETER E. BORTNER
POTTSVILLE REPUBLICAN & HERALD
October 22, 2008

A Schuylkill County judge is considering requests by two of the three defendants in the case of the 2006 death of a Donaldson miner to have charges against them dismissed.

David P. Zimmerman, 52, of Pine Grove, and Jeffrey T. Klinger, 42, of Tremont, have asked Judge Jacqueline L. Russell to dismiss charges resulting from the Oct. 23, 2006, explosion at the R&D Coal Co.’s Buck Mountain Mine in Tremont Township, in which Dale R. Reightler, 43, died.

Zimmerman, who owned the mine, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, obstructing the administration of law, causing a catastrophe, risking a catastrophe, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, conspiracy and violations of the Anthracite Mining Act.

Klinger is charged with involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, causing a catastrophe, risking a catastrophe and violations of the Anthracite Mining Act.

None of the attorneys in the case — Nicholas A. Quinn, Pottsville, who represents Klinger; Max G. Kramer, Philadelphia, who represents Zimmerman; and Chief Deputy Attorney General Glenn A. Parno — could be reached for comment on the hearing, which occurred Friday before Russell.

Steven D. Zimmerman, 32, of Pine Grove, a mine foreman and David Zimmerman’s son, did not join the request. Charges against him — involuntary manslaughter, recklessly endangering another person, obstructing the administration of law, causing or risking a catastrophe, violations of the Anthracite Mining Act and conspiracy — also are pending in the county court.

A state grand jury indicted the three in April as the result of the explosion that killed Reightler.

Methane accumulated in the mine and caused the explosion, according to the grand jury. Inadequate ventilation, failure to conduct pre-shift mine inspections, failure to follow proper blasting procedures and failure to monitor methane levels properly allowed the accumulation to occur, according to the grand jury.

At the June 12 preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Carol A. Pankake, Tremont, Quinn and Kramer each denied his client was responsible for the explosion and Reightler’s death.

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