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W.Va. man charged with murder could avoid jail time in plea deal

Christopher M. Speikers accused in death of Douglas S. Funk

Christopher M. Speikers accused in death of Douglas S. Funk

February 29, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- A 22-year-old man charged with second-degree murder in the July 2007 death of Douglas S. Funk II could avoid jail time in a plea presented Friday to 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

Christopher M. Speikers of Hedgesville, W.Va., would enter a guilty plea under Alford circumstances to one count of involuntary manslaughter, and a four-month sentence in Eastern Regional Jail would be suspended for probation, according to an agreement reached by Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely and defense attorney Kevin D. Mills. An Alford plea means that Speikers does not contest the state's case and would not have to make a statement in court regarding the crime.

Wilkes would decide a term of probation up to five years, and Speikers would be required to obtain mental health counseling, according to the proposed plea agreement entered into the court record Friday.

Speikers would not pay restitution or be fined.

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A hearing was scheduled for April 25 by Wilkes, who is expected to decide whether to accept the plea agreement after reviewing a standard presentence investigation.

Games-Neely said earlier this week that the plea had received the blessing of the victim's family and came about after her office reviewed all of the evidence in the case and she discussed the case with them.

Games-Neely on Feb. 15 filed paperwork with Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine's office charging Speikers with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Funk, 23, of Hedgesville, W.Va., according to court records.

Police have alleged that Speikers struck Funk in the nose and choked him unconscious July 12 after intervening in a fight between the victim and his younger brother, a friend of Speikers.

Funk never regained consciousness after he was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg from his home at 244 Dinner Belle Court. He died a little more than 24 hours later, on July 13, police said.

Speikers could have been sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined as much as $1,000 for a conviction of involuntary manslaughter. A second-degree murder conviction comes with a prison sentence that ranges from 10 to 40 years.

Mills said earlier this week that his client regretted Funk's death and was very sorry about what happened.

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