April Release in Beating Death

WHEELING – Jarrett Chandler may be released from jail in April after serving seven months of a one-year sentence for his part in the Sept. 1 death of Wheeling Jesuit student Kevin Figaniak.

West Virginia Regional Jail Authority spokeswoman Ashley Bennett said Chandler has a calculated release date of April 2 if he meets all of the criteria for an early release.

“This is his best-case scenario if he earns all of his good time credit,” she said.

West Virginia law states inmates serving more than six months and up to one year in a regional jail can get a sentence reduction of five days per month for good conduct time and five days each for completing rehabilitation classes, which include anger management, substance abuse, parenting, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and life skills. They can also eliminate up to 25 percent of the original sentence for working as a trustee.

Bennett said Chandler’s release date calculation is based upon 30 days for completing six classes, 60 days for good conduct time and 63 days for his work as a trustee. The good time calculation begins on the first day of incarceration. However, an inmate cannot qualify for trustee work until they are sentenced and no longer in pre-trial status.

Chandler had been in pre-trial status from Sept. 3 until Jan. 30, when Ohio County Judge David Sims sentenced him to one year in jail and fined him $1,000 after the 24-year-old Winnfield, La., resident pleaded guilty to misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter. The sentence includes credit for time served since Sept. 3.

The plea came as the result of an agreement between assistant prosecutors Shawn Turak and Gail Kahle and defense attorney Donald Tennant.

As part of the plea deal, Chandler agreed to testify in the April murder trial of Craig Tyler Peacock, 22, of Clewiston, Fla., who is charged with murdering Figaniak during an altercation following a night of drinking.

Tennant said he was aware of his client’s potential release date even before he was sentenced.

“At the time of the plea hearing, I was aware of the good time and work time and an estimate of the date of release is consistent with April 2,” he said.

Turak said she did not know the release date on the day Chandler was sentenced.

“I did not know then and I still do not know his calculated release date,” she said. “We know that by law he is entitled to good time and that is beyond our control.”

She said she believes Chandler received the maximum sentence possible based upon the facts of the case.

“The charge of involuntary manslaughter does not require an intent to kill and evidence of malice,” she said. “He was convicted of the most serious crime with which he could have been charged and, therefore, sentenced to the maximum on that charge. We believe justice has been done.”

Court documents show Figaniak and another WJU student were walking back to campus late Aug. 31 when they encountered Peacock, Chandler and a third man, who has not been charged. An argument ensued, leading Peacock, Chandler and the other man to follow Figaniak and his friend onto Locust Avenue where a physical altercation occurred.

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