Defense lawyer says he’s for Wheeling murder trial

WHEELING – Wheeling attorney Robert McCoid is looking forward to defending Craig Tyler Peacock, who is accused of killing Wheeling Jesuit University student Kevin Figaniak.

Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., will go before an Ohio County jury on April 29 to answer a charge of murder for the Sept. 1 death of Figaniak.

During docket day proceedings Thursday, McCoid entered an innocent plea on behalf of his client before Ohio County Circuit Judge James Mazzone. A pre-trial hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. March 11.

McCoid declined to comment on any potential defense strategy.

“Given the saturated pre-trial publicity the case has generated, its going to be difficult enough for us to pick a jury,” he said. “It is not necessary for me to add anything other than we believe the allegations are unfounded and we look forward to bringing the case to a fair jury.”

An Ohio County grand jury on Jan. 13 indicted Peacock for murder in the Sept. 1 death of 21-year-old Figaniak, who died of head injuries suffered during an altercation in which Peacock and Jarrett Mathis Chandler are accused.

Prosecutor Scott Smith said Chandler, 24, of Winnfield, La., was charged with misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter on Jan. 13 in Ohio County Circuit Court.

A police detective testified that Figaniak and another WJU student were returning to campus from a Carmel Road bar late Aug. 31 when they encountered Peacock, Chandler and a third man, who has not been charged, on Edgington Lane.

According to court documents, a verbal argument ensued, leading Peacock, Chandler and the other man to follow Figaniak and his friend onto Locust Avenue where a physical altercation occurred. Figaniak’s friend, who police said was intoxicated and provided a short, barely legible written statement, reportedly told investigators he was either punched or thrown to the ground.

During a Sept. 13 preliminary hearing before Ohio County Magistrate Joe Roxby, McCoid called the murder charge “outrageous” and “ludicrous.”

“There’s no proof that Tyler Peacock did anything to intentionally take the life of Kevin Figaniak,” McCoid told Roxby. “There’s no evidence whatsoever in front of you to that effect.”

Assistant Ohio County Prosecutor Gail Kahle, who along with Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak will try the case for the state, told Roxby there is plenty of evidence to prove the case.

“I would suggest that there’s a plethora of evidence to show that they had other-than-good intentions when they followed these two young men to the point where the attack took place – where Kevin Figaniak received the blows that took his life,” he said.

Peacock remains in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville, where he has been held under $1 million bond since being arrested shortly after the alleged fight in which Figaniak died.