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Restitution request not expected to affect plea deal

April 26, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A signed plea agreement to resolve the state's case against a man accused in the July 2007 death of Douglas S. Funk II is not expected to be jeopardized by a request for restitution that delayed a sentencing hearing scheduled for Friday.

A new hearing for Christopher M. Speikers, 22, of Hedgesville, W.Va., was set for Aug. 15.

The victim's family is asking for a little more than $22,000 for medical and funeral expenses, officials said Friday.

In February, Speikers agreed to enter a plea to a misdemeanor count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Funk, 23, of 244 Dinner Belle Court.

Police have said Speikers struck Funk in the nose and choked him into an unconscious state on July 12, 2007, after intervening in a fight between the victim and his younger brother, who is Speikers' friend.

Funk never regained consciousness after he was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg and died a little more than 24 hours later on July 13, police said.

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Only hours before Funk died, Speikers was arraigned on one count of malicious assault, which was replaced with the second-degree murder charge a week after the fight happened, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Speikers would be sentenced to four months in jail, but that term would be suspended in place of up to five years of probation determined by presiding 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes, according to court records.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela J. Games-Neely confirmed that restitution was not requested at the time of the plea agreement, but the victim's family had up to two years to make such a request through the state or civil action.

Defense attorney Kevin D. Mills said the delay keeps the possibility of a trial alive, but didn't expect that to happen. Mills reiterated that his client regretted Funk's death, and Speikers' intervention in the fight was nothing but a heroic, yet ill-fated effort to protect his friend from injury.

Games-Neely previously had said the victim's family had given its blessing to the plea agreement.

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