ST. PETERSBURG — A 33-year-old woman plunged to her death from the balcony of her eighth-floor apartment in the early-morning dark Wednesday.
Nicole Brandt was found lying by the pool area of the Beacon Apartments at 470 Third St. S after 3 a.m., according to St. Petersburg police. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Brandt left behind a young child living in the Seattle area, police said, which is where she's from. Brandt lived in the apartment with her boyfriend, Demian Gabriel DeMartini, 38. He told police that his girlfriend had gone out drinking that night and returned home about 3 a.m.
Then the couple argued. DeMartini told police he went to bed, then heard his girlfriend outside on the balcony.
He said he found her hanging over the side, clutching the railing. DeMartini told police that he tried to pull her back up.
Instead, she ended up falling to the concrete below. Witnesses told police that they saw DeMartini holding on to Brandt, trying to pull her back on to the balcony and heard him yelling for help. Then Brandt, clad only in a T-shirt, appeared to slip from his grasp and fall about 80 feet.
Police aren't sure why Brandt went over the railing. Did she intend to commit suicide and change her mind at the last second, only to find it was too late?
"The question mark is: Did she do it accidentally or did she do it on purpose?" said St. Petersburg police Maj. Mike Kovacsev.
The only option police seemed to discount Wednesday was foul play. The boyfriend, DeMartini, was questioned by police but at this point they don't anticipate levying any charges.
The investigation is continuing, however, and Brandt's death will continue to be classified as "suspicious" until toxicology results come back in four to six weeks. Police said they want to know how much she had to drink that night and if anything else could have contributed to her death.
They also want to talk to family and friends and investigate her state of mind. The couple moved here from Seattle just a few weeks ago. Neighbors said the couple often fought with each other and with other complex residents.
"They were a dysfunctional couple," said neighbor Samuel Nunes, 22, who moved from Miami. "They told residents they were in a bad relationship."
Times staff writer Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8472.