Man sentenced to one year in jail for brawl

WOODSTOCK – A man who provoked a brawl that left two of the participants seriously injured was sentenced Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to one year in jail.

The sentence imposed by Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp was the maximum allowable for assault and battery, the misdemeanor charge on which Justin Tyler Biggers was convicted last month.

Biggers, 21, of 2999 Stony Creek Road, was acquitted Sept. 17 of two felony charges in a bench trial before Hupp that included eight hours of testimony about a melee that involved a baseball bat, pipe, walking stick and handgun.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kristen Zalenski asked for the maximum sentence for assault and battery.

“Your honor, this was not a simple punch in the jaw case,” Zalenski told Hupp, adding that the fight involved “multiple people, multiple weapons.”

Doctors at Winchester Medical Center diagnosed one of the participants, Jonathan Funkhouser II, with a fractured skull and fractured orbital bone hours after the fight at 398 Coal Mine Road on Sept. 5, 2014.

Funkhouser testified at trial that someone hit him in the head with a hard object and knocked him to the ground.

Funkhouser managed to get to his feet and found himself confronting Biggers, who had grabbed a baseball bat.

Funkhouser testified that his son obtained a handgun nearby and handed it to him. Funkhouser said Biggers dropped the bat after seeing the handgun, which was never fired or aimed.

Michael Baughman, another participant in the fight, said Biggers hit him in the jaw with an axe handle, although others testified that Biggers used only his fists. Baughman suffered a broken jaw during the fight.

Defense attorney Charles Ramsey said that despite conflicting testimony, “the one thing that was consistent about evidence the court heard is that Mr. Funkhouser struck the first blow.”

Ramsey said there was no evidence linking Funkhouser’s injury to Biggers.

“It is true that I view each group as a mob of sorts,” Hupp said.

But, the judge added, the “initial provocation” came when Biggers and several companions arrived at the site, and the Funkhouser party went to confront them.

Two of Biggers’s co-defendants are still facing charges. Hupp said he would make a decision about how much restitution Biggers should pay on Jan. 4, when one of the co-defendants is scheduled for a jury trial.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com