Jury selection in Wheeling Jesuit University murder case continues today

WHEELING – Jury selection is expected to enter its second day today in the murder trial of Craig Tyler Peacock, charged in the beating death of Wheeling Jesuit University student Kevin Figaniak last year.

Attorneys on both sides were unable to finish the selection process Monday, despite spending 10 hours questioning potential jurors to select the 12 who will decide the fate of the 22-year-old Clewiston, Fla., resident. Circuit Judge James Mazzone sent everyone home for the night shortly after 7 p.m., and the trial was scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today.

When proceedings began Monday, more than 75 prospective jurors filled the second floor courtroom of the City-County Building in Wheeling. One by one, they were called into Mazzone’s chambers for questioning, with a goal of selecting 23 prospects who would be whittled down to 12 jurors and one alternate who will hear evidence in the case.

Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak is expected to call 18 witnesses during the trial, including 24-year-old Jarrett Chandler of Winnfield, La., who pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter earlier this year for his involvement in the Aug. 31 fight that allegedly led to Figaniak’s death on Sept. 1.

According to court documents, Figaniak and another Wheeling Jesuit student were walking back to campus late Aug. 31 when they encountered Peacock, Chandler and a third man, who has not been charged. Police said an argument ensued, leading Peacock, Chandler and the other man to follow Figaniak and his friend onto Locust Avenue where a fight occurred.

During the scuffle, Chandler punched Figaniak in the face, causing him to fall. Peacock then allegedly kicked Figaniak in the side of the head, which police believe caused his death.

Chandler served seven months of a one-year sentence and as part of his plea deal, he agreed to testify for the prosecution in the Peacock case.

Peacock has been in the Northern Regional Jail on $1 million bond since being arrested Sept. 3.