Man charged in death gets probation

April 20, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Christopher M. Speikers, accused in the July 12, 2007, choking death of 23-year-old Douglas Scott Funk II, received a suspended four-month jail sentence Monday in Berkeley County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of malicious wounding.

Speikers, 23, will serve three years probation. 

The plea agreement was accepted by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes, who said Speikers had no intention of causing Funk's death.

Speikers, of Berkeley County, might not have to pay the more than $20,000 in restitution sought by the victim's family to cover Funk's medical and funeral expenses, his lawyer, Kevin Mills, said after the hearing.

Funk died the morning after he was strangled by Speikers, who was trying to pull him off his brother, 14-year-old Charles Jerry Funk. The two had gotten into a fight in the entryway of their home at 244 Dinner Belle Court in Hedgesville, W.Va., Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said after Monday's hearing.


Speikers, who was staying in the home at the time and was friends with both brothers, intervened in the fight when he pulled Douglas Funk off his brother and punched him in the nose. Speikers then sat on top of Funk, grabbed him in a choke hold and held him down until he lost consciousness. Funk died the next morning at City Hospital.

The force used by Speikers exceeded what was necessary to stop the fight, Games-Neely said. She called the incident "tragic." 

Speikers originally was charged by West Virginia State Police with malicious wounding. After Funk died, it was upgraded to murder in the second degree, a charge that carries a prison sentence of 15 to 35 years.

Mills called Funk's death a "good Samaritan homicide." He said Speikers was "overcharged at first. The other brother (Charles) repeatedly thanked him (Speikers) for saving his life."

A civil judgment was ordered against Speikers for $20,505 in restitution for medical and funeral expenses to Douglas Funk's family. Mills said he doubts the funeral home and hospital will ever bill the family.

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