A DeKalb County judge on Wednesday downgraded the criminal charge against a 54-year-old man accused of drunkenly pushing his girlfriend out of a second-story window.
Mikle Allen Spann was arrested April 15 and initially charged with malice murder. His girlfriend of about three years, 63-year-old Vanessa Banks, died at Grady Memorial Hospital about an hour after falling out of the window.
At a preliminary hearing in the DeKalb County Magistrate Court Wednesday, attorneys argued whether Banks’ fall was an accident or if Spann drunkenly pushed her after the couple had an argument in the apartment on Concepts 21 Drive in Stonecrest. Ultimately, Judge Joyce Neal decided to downgrade the charge to involuntary manslaughter. She also granted Spann a $30,000 bond.
“It’s a bizarre situation, and it’s a tragedy,” Spann’s attorney Daryl Queen said after the hearing. “You had a couple, older couple, (that) had its ups and downs, like every other relationship.”
Queen said there was no evidence that Spann meant to kill his girlfriend, which would be necessary to convict him of malice murder. The fall may have been an accident, Queen said, pointing out that Banks died at the hospital and the official cause of death has not been released.
“It’s clear that there is no malice here,” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Kelly McMichael, however, told the judge, “There is no way that this is an accident.”
Police documents and a detective’s testimony shed more light on the conflicting stories about how Banks died.
According to the initial police report, the victim, who also lived in the apartment, was alert in the back of an ambulance after falling out of the window. She said she got in an argument with Spann.
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“She stated she finally stood up for herself and Mr. Spann hit her in the face,” the report states. She told officers her boyfriend then pushed her out of the window about 12:30 a.m. Monday. Police later found him in bed.
Earlier in the night, the argument began after Spann came home drunk and said he had missed work at Goodwill in Sandy Springs, homicide Detective Doronte Evans testified during the hearing.
“The entire window fell from that apartment,” Evans said. “It wasn’t just glass. The entire molding fell out and was on the ground below the apartment.”
Spann’s sister Joyce Green was also in the apartment during the incident. After calling 911, she told officers her brother rushed toward Banks after she held a vase over her head, and it didn’t seem like she was pushed.
“As he grabbed her, that’s when she went backwards out of the window,” Evans said. “She says she was just gone.”
Officers found Spann lying in bed, and ordered him to put some clothes on. He told police that he did not push his girlfriend out of the window, according to the police report.
While Spann doesn’t have much of a criminal record in Georgia, he was arrested 17 times in New York, the prosecutor said. As part of his bond conditions, Spann, who is originally from South Carolina, must report to pre-trial services and undergo drug and alcohol screenings. It was unclear if he had bonded out as of Wednesday afternoon.
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