December 11, 2018 

Indictments set aside in miner's death - The Sacrameto Bee

DOWNIEVILLE -- A judge Thursday set aside indictments charging a hard rock gold mine and two of its top officials with manslaughter in a miner's accidental death three years ago.


The ruling cleared the Original Sixteen-to-One Mine, its president, Michael M. Miller, 60, and mine manager Jonathon T. Farrell, 32, of any wrongdoing in the death of Mark Fussell in November 2000.


Miller said he might file a claim for damages against prosecutors from the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) for allegedly acting improperly in the case.


Fussell was crushed between a protruding ore chute and a moving railway tram while reopening an unfamiliar "drift" -- or tunnel -- for gold exploration.


Safety investigators later cited the mining company for not having marked the chute hazard with a flag or reflector.


The CDAA, which provides attorneys with special legal training to help rural district attorneys in complex trials, took the matter to a Sierra County grand jury last year and obtained indictments against the two men and the mine.


Miller responded by filing a motion to set aside the indictment, alleging the CDAA lawyers had not disclosed to the grand jurors evidence that pointed to the defendants' innocence.


Tom Nadeau


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