Hearing delayed in Martinsburg, W.Va. murder case

October 10, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A preliminary hearing today for a man charged in the death of Douglas "Scott" Funk II was canceled Tuesday after a 23rd Judicial Circuit judge agreed to allow $3,500 in taxpayer money be spent in the man's defense.

Christopher Michael Speikers, 22, is charged with second-degree murder in the July death of Funk. Speikers is accused of punching Funk in the nose and choking the 23-year-old Hedgesville, W.Va., area man unconscious in an altercation at the victim's home July 12.

Funk, of 244 Dinner Belle Court, died the next day at City Hospital in Martinsburg.

Though unemployed and facing loan payments, Speikers indicated in an affidavit he signed in August that he was able to retain defense attorney Kevin D. Mills as private counsel.

Mills on Tuesday told Judge Gray Silver III that he was approached by a church to defend Speikers at no charge.


Before reaching an agreement with Mills behind closed doors, Berkeley County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Christopher Quasebarth objected, arguing that legal precedent did not provide a defense attorney "a blank check."

Quasebarth also questioned the timing of the request because it came before Speikers' preliminary hearing, which determines if there is probable cause to allow the state's case to continue against the accused.

Mills countered that past court rulings did not restrict timing for such a request and his petition to pay for certain expenses to defend his indigent client was needed to determine the man's self-defense claim.

Police have said that the accused had the chance to end the fight after causing Funk's nose to bleed, but "chose to sit on the victim" and caused him to go unconscious. Speikers told authorities that he intervened in a fight between Funk and his 15-year-old brother, who was not charged, police have said.

After the hearing, Mills said an investigator would be paid $1,000 for witness interviews and other pretrial discovery, and a forensics crime scene investigator would be paid $2,500 to compare witness statements and evidence referred to in the police report.

Mills backed away from his petitioned request for a psychologist to possibly evaluate his client or a medical expert to interpret medical records.

Magistrate Sandra L. Miller did not set a new hearing date Tuesday.

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