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Peacock says he’s headed back to Florida after not-guilty verdict in student death trial

Updated: Friday, June 13 2014, 05:41 PM EDT
WHEELING, W.Va. – Craig Tyler Peacock said he was headed back to Florida, not long after he was found not guilty in a murder trial involving the beating death of Wheeling Jesuit student Kevin Figaniak.
Peacock, 22, also apologized to Figaniak’s family, saying “I feel really, really sorry for what had happened.”
The state and defense spent five days slugging it out in an Ohio County courtroom prior to Friday afternoon’s verdict.
“In your typical bar fight you don't have a man lying on the ground unconscious that you kick,” Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Gail Kahle said.
"The state would have you believe this is some kind of sinister tale, extraordinary, or out of the ordinary,” defense attorney Robert McCoid said. “This is what happens when drunk young men get together and they are out too late."
Both experts that testified in the trial agreed multiple head injuries contributed to Figaniak's death, but Dr. Greg Davis told jurors he didn't think Peacock's contact with Figaniak's face had anything to do with his severe injuries.
The defense instead says a fall from a punch Jarrett Chandler threw is what killed Figaniak. The kick was simply an abrasion. Chandler, already convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Figaniak's death, has also been released from custody after spending nine months in jail.
McCoid said the state overcharged and called it irresponsible.
"Mr. Peacock had nothing to do with (Figaniak’s) death,” McCoid argued. “There's no evidence of that, and this is an extremely unfortunate narrative that took hold in the community. I find that we derive faith from one source and that's a jury.”
There were tears on both sides of the courtroom -- the Figaniak family for the death of their son and tears of joy from Peacock's friends and family as he was set free.
Now exonerated, Peacock says he will leave Wheeling and return to Florida.
He described the last year spent in an orange jumpsuit in jail: “Rough, pretty rough,” he said. “Having that toll on your back, it don't feel too good.”
The prosecution did not comment, nor did the Figaniak family.

Peacock says he’s headed back to Florida after not-guilty verdict in student death trial

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