"In no way should the nature and circumstances of the UBB tragedy be weighed in considering sentence in this case, and they do not support a term of incarceration."
Wilmoth wrote that Stover grew up very poor and "was beaten as a child by his stepfather." He served two years in the Marines, and then two more years in the Navy, Wilmoth said.
"He has no history of criminal activity, and he has no history of substance abuse," Wilmoth wrote. "He does, however, have a long and consistent history of gainful work in law enforcement and security at coal mines."
Wilmoth said Stover "continues to play a positive role in his family and in society," volunteering at a local fire station and being part of his four granddaughters' lives.
"Elbert Stover poses no threat to anyone, and his history as a law-abiding, contributing family man and member of society factors against a term of incarceration," Wilmoth wrote.
Goodwin asked Berger to make Stover an example to the coal industry.
In their legal memo, prosecutors explain that, "longstanding conventional wisdom holds that the federal government cares little about mine safety crimes.
"This case has the potential to upend that assumption and foster broad deterrence in an industry that is closely monitoring the outcome here," Goodwin wrote. "A sentence consistent with the magnitude of defendant's conduct and its consequences will send a resounding message: Gambling with coal miners' lives risks the most severe punishment available under the law."
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.