Beating Death Suspect Gets a New Attorney

WHEELING – One of the men accused of beating Wheeling Jesuit University student Kevin Figaniak to death following an argument outside of a bar last month has changed defense attorneys.

Jarrett Chandler, 24, of Winnfield, La., and Tyler Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., each have been charged with second-degree murder.

Public defenders Shayne Welling and Keith Hart were appointed to represent Chandler following his arrest on Sept. 9. Since then, Chandler’s family hired Donald Tennant to replace Welling and Hart.

A lawyer in northern Louisiana referred Chandler’s family to Tennant after conducting research, Tennant said.

Prior to the change in counsel, Welling and Hart waived Chandler’s preliminary hearing in Ohio County Magistrate Court on Sept. 12. In return, the prosecution provided them with early access to evidence in the case.

That evidence now will be provided to Tennant, who is still forbidden from sharing it with Peacock’s attorney, Robert McCoid.

McCoid opted to go through with his client’s preliminary hearing, which was scheduled prior to Chandler’s that day. The public defenders, as well as Tennant, attended that hearing, and got to hear testimony from the lead detective in the case.

Tennant sat with Chandler’s parents and aunt in the courtroom audience during that hearing. At that time, it had already been decided that Tennant would take over for Welling and Hart.

Chandler and Peacock remain in the Northern Regional Jail, each on $1 million cash bond. Tennant said no decision has been made about a possible request to modify bond for Chandler.

Tennant said he has spent “many hours” speaking with Chandler at the jail.

Prosecutors say Chandler and Peacock followed Figaniak and another WJU student-athlete 938 feet after the groups argued on Aug. 31 outside of the Owl’s Nest.

The defendants, who were working locally in the natural gas industry, told police Figaniak started the fight in which they allegedly inflicted massive head injuries that lead to Figaniak’s death.