UPDATE: Logger Found Not Guilty of Cutting Down Healthy Trees at Coonskin Park

By: Shannon Houser, WV Metro News Email
By: Shannon Houser, WV Metro News Email

UPDATE 8/20/14 @ 6:15 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ/WV Metro News) -- A jury in Kanawha County has found a logger not guilty in connection with cutting down healthy trees at Coonskin Park after the 2012 derecho, according to our media partner WV Metro News.

The jury deliberated for about two hours Wednesday in the case of David Bowen.

Bowen was hired by the Kanawha County Parks to cut down damaged trees after the storm.

The prosecutor's office said he cut down healthy trees and sold them for timber, making nearly $100,000.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man accused of illegally cutting down trees in Coonskin Park for profit was in court Monday.

David Bowen was hired by the Kanawha County Parks and Recreation Commission to remove trees cut down and damaged by the 2012 derecho. Investigators say he did a lot more than that, though.

Kanawha County Prosecutor Fred Giggenbach said, "Over 100 years old some of them -- he sawed them down and he took them out."

Giggenbach was talking about more than 300 trees investigators say Bowen and his crew took from the park in the middle of the night, illegally. The profit totaled more than $100,000.

Witnesses testified during the trial Monday that Bowen and his crew didn't have a contract, but acted outside of the agreement stated by the parks commission. They say, in addition to cutting down healthy trees, he also built nearly 2 miles of skid roads to access the trees.

People who walk the park daily noticed something was off when they saw Bowen's company cutting down healthy trees lining the parks trails and even trees inside the wooded park property.

"Being horrified in them cutting down," Margaret Zaleski said. "There were two white oak trees that were three to four feet in diameter."

He even admitted to one park employee he knew what he was doing was wrong. The employee recorded the conversation secretly with her phone. Bowen said in the recording, " I am guilty of that. I did go down there and get trees." He continues by saying, "I'm not gonna stay in jail forever. I got insurance."

The trial continues Tuesday. It's expected to last a few days. If found guilty, Bowen could face more than 10 years behind bars.

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