WHEELING, W.Va. — An Ohio County jury found an out-of-work pipeliner not guilty Friday afternoon in the alleged murder of Wheeling Jesuit University student Kevin Figaniak.

The panel deliberated the murder charge against Craig Peacock for less than an hour before delivering its verdict to a stunned courtroom.

File photo

WJU lacrosse player Kevin Figaniak died a day after the Aug. 31 fight.

Figaniak was out with a friend at a bar in downtown Wheeling on Aug. 31, 2013, when he encountered Peacock and other natural gas pipeline workers. The groups eventually engaged in a street fight, during which Figaniak was punched and kicked in the head. He died less than 24 hours later.

Peacock, of Clearwater, Fla., testified in his own defense Thursday saying he was upset about disrespectful comments Figaniak and his friend made toward the pipeliners but never intended for anyone to die.

Ohio County prosecutors alleged Peacock wanted to fight with Figaniak and kicked him after he had fallen to the street. Defense attorneys said the tragic death was the result of what happens when young men drink too much and act like “tough guys.”

The jury had five choices including not guilty or guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter.

Those in the courtroom gasped when the not-guilty verdict was read. The Figaniak family began crying and left the courtroom quickly. Peacock hugged his father and was released.

Figaniak was a lacrosse player at WJU.

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  • Read the facts..

    Had some typos from typing to fast.. Sorry everyone

  • Read the facts..

    First.. The area of the altercation was hardly downtown.. 2nd.. It's should have stated there were 5 blows to the head and what they were..

    Anyone calling these 3 men none of us know from Adam thugs is very hypercritical! I waited on Chandler many of times before this incident.. The other 2 I have never seen.. But to call him a thug is the complete opposite. If anything is call him a cowboy.. Bc when it comes down to it if u ever would have crossed him before this, that is what you would have thought. He had I'm from out of town written all over his cowboy hat, flannel shirt and wranglers.. A very easy target to pick out to say the least!
    Drunk students fill a basketball court every year and yell.. It's alright it's ok, you're going to pump our gas someday.. As a way of saying hey out education is better than yours.. Unfortunately making it hard to believe the conversation of degrading the men for thier work never took place provoking the fight.
    Everyone involved had the chance to walk away and didn't.. So to charge 1 man with murder is outrageous.
    I will say it again.. The doctors in the case brought to light the verdict as soon as they gave thier EXPERT opinions.
    The man that hit Flaganki that caused the fall that both doctors said was the most probable cause of death.. Plead quality to involuntary manslaughter and severed time.
    The state went after the wrong guy and a guy they had to case against.. They just hoped the jury would feel bad enough for Kevin and his family to get a guilty verdict so they could just chalk it up as a huge win and make us all happy.
    Anyone commenting needs to sit down and read the case.. The facts.. The testimony and more importantly that states pathetic closing..
    The state had no case against Peacock..

    And now a young man is dead Bc of the bar fight that went wrong and us as humans feel like no one get punished. Keep in mind we are talking about jailing an innocent man, convicting him with murder not putting him in the corner for a time out!

  • DWL

    I wonder how the weather is in Florida as compared to the daisy pusher from that jesuit university that educates the "whole person - caring for the mind, body and spirit of each student." Wow! Didn't say anything about bar hopping, name calling, and fight instigation. Must be a new "academic" course of study.

    • We know you

      Wow, David, you actually think of that all by yourself?

      • DWL

        Who's David? Or are you looking in a mirror?

  • Defendant and family are Scum

    Well happy Father's Day to the defendants father. How does it feel to know your son contributed to a young man's death. You must be very proud of your son today. Not!

  • Judge Jimmy

    The college boy's mouth made a debt his a** couldn't cover. People on the jury heard ALL OF THE EVIDENCE and I think it's safe to say none of us commenters did. Snooty college boys got their smart mouth a**es handed to them. Expect consequences when you are out getting drunk and have a big mouth. I am not saying the boy should have died but he and his so called friend are responsible for starting the fight with their big mouths. These pipeliners did not walk down the street and attack some innocent youths returning from Saturday night mass.

    • DWL

      Exactly right!

  • Marcus

    I'm sure the civil trial will follow. And the defendant and his buddies will lose that one. You can't put your hands on anyone, period. No matter whether it's an insult or petty argument. You are not allowed to touch anyone without their permission. So get lawyered up again dirt bags. More financial pain is coming soon.

    • Diaspora

      No reason to sue someone that has nothing. There will be no civil trail or attorney willing to file the suit on a contingency basis.

      • Katydids

        A civil suit has the potential to attach a person's wages for the rest of his like. I agree that this is not over, and a civil trial will follow. The kid will have to decide if he's going to pay his debt, or choose to be a deadbeat the rest of his life, in order to avoid his payments to the family.

    • notsorightious

      Sounds like the young punk started a fight and got his butt handed to him. Should have stayed on the porch.

      • Another idiot reply

        Another low I.Q. And loser redneck type comment. You make other hard working rednecks look bad. What do you do for a living after you dropped out of school. Certainly not writing or any job that requires intellect. Go back to sleeping with your sister.

        • David

          And you talk about low I.Q.'s and loser redneck comments!

  • Mark

    The defendant and his buddies walk free for now. So they will rejoice for now, but I'm sure their pain will come soon enough as life has taught me that consequences follow whether from the legal system or the karma that is sure to find them. You simply can't touch another human, cause injury or death and walk away free. So,e penalty should have been issued. I would love to see someone track the rest of their lives so we can observe their negative future.

    • uncle phil

      Karma??? Bwhahahaha! Hilarious!

      • Uncle Phil is an idiot

        Well we will see Unc Phil.........keep watching.

        • uncle phil

          Right...because this world is about fairness and justice. All bad deeds will certainly be punished - either by Karma, or "jesus", or some imaginary people in the sky.

          Right on brother!

  • William

    Words don't hurt anyone. But one man strikes another man and the result is death. How can you walk away free? I'm stunned. This free bird will pay one day. Guarantee it.

  • The bookman

    My dad told me a few things long ago when I was in high school , and later when I went off to college. Avoid violent situations, but if you can't, and must fight, fight to win, at all cost. You never know how far a fight may escalate, and you never want to be on the short end, as bad things can happen, including death. He also told me that drinking alcohol to excess in public places will usually end badly.

    I feel badly for Figaniak's family, and thought of the pain they must have felt as I look at my own children who someday may find themselves in a similar situation. But I also recognize that all involved seemed to be willing participants in the melee that ensued, including Figaniak. Our Judicial system is intended to deal justice, not reparation and comfort to victims in lieu of justice. If the shoe had been on the other foot, would the same people be calling for Figaniak's conviction of Peacock's death? The jury heard the evidence, and we should teach the lessons that this tragedy has provided to our children so that they are fully aware of the dangers of this kind of behavior.

    Sorry if this appears twice.

    • Just the facts

      Juries in WV are mostly comprised of lower I.Q. citizens. And most can be bought with no problem. Facts are facts.

      • The bookman

        That is unless they rule in your favor, at which point they were well versed and attentive to the evidence.

  • thornton

    Alcohol + peers = sub-60 minute deliberations.

  • Shadow

    Why is it that some folks can get so absolute when they did not hear all of the testimony at the trial? The Jury heard the testimony, was advised of the law, and rendered a verdict the American Way. So far, no one has found a better solution to the problem than ours. For those that think they have a better way, write it in this column and let us all know.

    • Taylor

      Hey dumbas_, he put his foot on another mans's head and contributed to his death. How about you let someone kick you in the head and then watch them walk away with no consequences.

      • Shadow

        If you were a witness to this, why didn't you support the prosecution? It is easy to make your proclamation when you haven't put your hand on the Bible and sworn to tell the truth. You also didn't propose a better solution to any type of problem like this that is better than our Jury System. Waiting!!!! for your proposal.

  • Chiefsbaby

    Two words: disgusting verdict

  • Chiefsbaby

    One word : disgusting

  • Gary

    People should not rush to judgement. I feel deep sorrow for the young mans family.. However with that being said. He was drunk , and it would appear , that he made derogitory comments about someone that was minding his own business . Who is the victim here ??????? You had a young man that has spent several months in jail. He is innocent.!!!!! The sad part is that none of us will ever know the complete unabridged facts of this case.

    • Unbelievable

      You are right, cause the defendants and their layers are all liars and the dead can't talk.

  • Unbelievable

    I hope the jury and the dependent meet a similar fate one day. Yes, I wasn't there, but you can't kick a man in the head, contribute to his death and walk away. Fate will get him one day.

    • Chiefsbaby