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Weekend brawl or malicious kick? WJU death trial continues

Updated: Tuesday, June 10 2014, 05:53 PM EDT

A negative comment about pipeliners is what the defense and prosecution said started a fight that killed 21-year-old Kevin Figaniak.

Figaniak was a student at Wheeling Jesuit University who died from significant and multiple head injuries on Sept. 1, 2013.

Ohio County Assistant Prosecutor Shawn Turak said a group of oil and gas workers and two WJU students met at the corner of Carmel Road in Wheeling.

The pipeliners had left the Owl's Nest bar and the students the Ye Olde Alpha.

The two groups exchanged pleasantries at first and even sang together, but that quickly changed when WJU student T.J. Johnson made some negative comments.

Defense attorney Robert McCoid said Johnson, Figaniak's friend, mocked the pipeliners.

"Where'd you go to school?" said Johnson.

"We work on the pipeline," answered one of the three men.

"I guess you don't need school for that," Johnson said.

McCoid said the two WJU students egged the three pipeliners on and told them they "weren't going to do anything."

The verbal argument continued down the street about 900 feet until Figaniak shoved Jarrett Chandler, who then responded with a punch to the face that knocked Figaniak down.

Chandler was already convicted of misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter and has served his time.

Both the prosecutors and the defense agree three different people caused injuries to Figaniak's head.

The state also said Tuesday Figaniak actually started the physical confrontation with a shove.

Turak said Peacock was beyond drunk and outraged and his pride had been wounded.

"In placing (Peacock's boot) to the left side of (Figaniak's head) as he ran away -- it is those actions that the state has charged him with murder," said Turak."You never kick a man when he's down."

McCoid said it was a weekend brawl that went too far.

"This was nothing more than a common street fight and they were all drunk. Everyone in this story is intoxicated.The actual fight lasted 15 seconds or less -- this is anything, but a murder," said McCoid.

Both sides agree all five young men were drunk at the time of the fight and Johnson, Figaniak's friend, was even cut off by a bartender at the Ye Olde Alpha.

Surveillance video of the groups meeting was shown in court Tuesday. Testimony from two bartenders, a paramedic and the lead detective for the Wheeling Police Department were heard.

Several more witnesses are scheduled to testify Wednesday.

Stick with NEWS9 and WTOV9.com for the latest or follow Wheeling reporter Crissy Clutter on Twitter @CrissyWTOV9 for up-to-the-minute details.

Weekend brawl or malicious kick? WJU death trial continues

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