2nd-Degree Murder Charge Reduced In Drug Overdose Case In Which There Was No Autopsy

  • Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Stephen Daniel Bates
Stephen Daniel Bates

A man who had been charged with second-degree murder in a Sept. 16, 2022, drug overdose death has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

Stephen Daniel Bates, 38, pleaded guilty to facilitation to commit second-degree murder. He got a suspended eight-year sentence.

Charges of possession of fentanyl for resale and possession of meth for resale were dismissed.

District Attorney Coty Wamp said it was a case in which the state's proof was hampered by the lack of an autopsy.

She said, "There was no autopsy, so that always makes it hard for us. We’ve been working with law enforcement and the medical examiner’s office on the need for full autopsies to prove these cases. It’s my understanding that in the last year they have increased the number of autopsies on overdoses."

The overdose victim was 44-year-old Michael Paul Yanik.

An East Ridge native, he grew up in Chattanooga and was a 1966 graduate of Tyner High School, where he played the bass as a member of the Orchestra and represented the school by going to All State his senior year. He also grew up learning how to play the piano and later taught himself how to play the bass guitar.

His family said, "Because of Michael’s lifelong love of music, he played the electric bass guitar as a member of DeArranged, an alternative rock band."

Following high school, he attended Chattanooga State where he earned a Certificate in Industrial Electronics in 1999. He worked at many industrial companies throughout his life including Volkswagen, Gestamp, Triumph Sheets, and Plastic Omnium.

He was described as "a very kind-hearted person and was often described by his older sister as her 'goofy' brother who was always cracking jokes. His older brother considered him his best friend growing up. He always had a smile on his face and loved to laugh and have fun. His laugh was infectious."

He had married Tonya West on June 17, 2006, and they had three children together.

Michael Paul Yanik
Michael Paul Yanik
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