Suspect in beating death gets public defender

WHEELING – Jarrett Mathis Chandler, one of two men charged with murder in last weekend’s beating death of 21-year-old Wheeling Jesuit student Kevin Figaniak, will be represented by a public defender.

Chandler, 24, of Winnfield, La., and Craig Tyler Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., have been held in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville, each on $1 million cash bond, since being arrested Tuesday.

On Thursday, Chief Public Defender Shayne Welling and Assistant Public Defender Keith Hart were appointed to represent Chandler. Peacock still was without a lawyer on Thursday.

Both suspects applied for court-appointed attorneys following their arrests earlier this week, but were denied. They subsequently refiled financial affidavits, because neither is receiving income while jailed. Peacock is expected to be appointed an attorney today or early next week.

Preliminary hearings for both suspects are scheduled for Thursday in magistrate court. Assistant prosecutors Shawn Turak and Gail Kahle will represent the state at that hearing.

Police have omitted the surviving victim’s name from court filings, and have refused to release his name to the media. They have identified him only as a student-athlete.

Wheeling Police Detective Gregg McKenzie said sufficient information was included in the criminal complaint, authored by Detective Daniel Holmes, to secure arrest warrants for Peacock and Chandler. Officials declined to say whether the omission of the surviving victim’s name, as well as any other people who may have been in the fight, was deliberate.

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said he has not released the victim’s name out of consideration for his privacy, but never explicitly instructed McKenzie to do the same.

Based on the surviving student’s statement that he and Figaniak were attacked by three or four men, police are continuing to search for more people who could have participated in the fight.

Peacock, Chandler and their friends followed the victims after a “verbal altercation” outside of a bar near the WJU campus, court documents state. McKenzie said alcohol was a factor in the incident.

Chandler and Peacock each admitted to striking one of the victims, and Peacock said he “may” have kicked the person he was fighting, police said. Chandler said he saw at least one of his friends fighting another man, while Peacock said he saw his friends fighting both students.