- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia jury on Friday cleared a Florida man in the beating death of a Wheeling Jesuit University student.

Media outlets report an Ohio County Circuit Court jury found Craig Peacock of Clewiston, Florida, not guilty of a murder charge in the death of 21-year-old Kevin Figaniak of Perkasie, Pennsylvania.

Peacock embraced his family and cried after the verdict was announced. Peacock said later he would move back to his native Florida and look for work.

“I feel really, really sorry for what had happened,” Peacock said.

Peacock, 22, testified Thursday that he was intoxicated and did not remember kicking Figaniak in the head last August in Wheeling.

Prosecutors say Figaniak was beaten during an argument and died the next day. They declined comment after the verdict.

Defense attorney Robert McCoid argued that Figaniak died as a result of the fall to the ground after being punched by co-defendant Jarrett Mathis Chandler.

“My position has been all along that this has never been a murder case,” McCoid said. “This is one of the most irresponsible prosecutions I have ever seen.”

Chandler of Winnfield, Louisiana, pleaded guilty in January to involuntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to a year in prison.

Chandler and Peacock worked in the oil and gas industry.

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