By Tim Leeds
A man released from prison after the Montana Supreme Court overturned his conviction is back in jail.
Jacob Spang, 21, turned himself in to the Havre Police Department on Wednesday. Hill County Attorney Dave Rice has filed a felony charge of aggravated assault against Spang, and he is in the Hill County Detention Center awaiting arraignment.
Rice said he is waiting for additional evidence before he makes a final decision about what charge he will pursue.
"We need to wait for medical evidence," he said.
The assault charge carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison and a maximum $50,000 fine. Rice said if Spang is convicted of a felony, he will ask that Spang be classified as a persistent felony offender, which could add between five and 100 years to the sentence.
Spang had been serving two concurrent 10-year sentences when the state Supreme Court in June threw out his convictions on two counts of intimidation by accountability. He was convicted of those charges and a count of tampering with physical evidence in connection with the slayings of Kristi Walker and Kevin Caplette in Havre in 1999. The Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained after Spang told police he needed a lawyer was inadmissible.
Rice decided not to retry Spang on the charges. Instead, Spang pleaded guilty to one charge of intimidation by accountability on June 28, and District Judge John Warner sentenced him to 981 days in prison, with credit for 981 days already served.
According to the new criminal complaint filed in Justice Court, Spang slapped a woman in the face last week after the two had been drinking and got into an argument.
Rice said he decided to charge Spang with felony assault because of the extent of the woman's injuries.
"My thought was she got really creamed in the face," Rice said.
The victim initially told a police officer that Spang had slapped her once, the complaint said. But after a relative told her to tell the truth, the complaint said, she then said he hit her with his fist, and stood on her arms and hit her again after she fell to the ground.
The victim estimated Spang hit her about 10 times, the complaint said. It added that she had three broken bones around her eye and has to go to a specialist in Great Falls for surgery to repair the damage.
Medical evidence will determine whether the state will pursue the felony charge against Spang or whether the attack has to be classified as partner or family assault, Rice said.