A woman was high on meth and other drugs when she commandeered her SUV after a fight with her boyfriend and ran over him on Killarney Way, crushing his head, according to court records.
Nikoleta Koikos, 36, was arrested Monday on charges of vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter in the death of Gary Diskerud Jr., 34. The Tallahassee Police Department obtained an arrest warrant on Thursday after consulting with the State Attorney’s Office. Koikos turned herself in at the Leon County Detention Facility.
Her arrest came nearly four months after the crash, which happened early the morning of Jan. 12 near the roundabout in Killearn Estates. The crash investigation that day shut down neighborhood streets. But the case remained cloaked in secrecy because of TPD’s interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment that grants crime victims and their families the right to keep identifying information about them private.
Koikos herself called 911 after the crash, according to court records. When Tallahassee firefighters arrived around 5:30 a.m., they found Koikos in the roadway crying and holding Diskerud’s body.
She told firefighters she and Diskerud had gotten into a fight in her Jeep Liberty. He got out of the vehicle, she said, but grabbed onto the door or window as she drove off. She said she felt the Jeep drive over “something” but was too hysterical to give details.
When a traffic homicide investigator arrived, he found Koikos sleeping and faintly snoring in the back of a TPD squad car. He asked her name and appeared to mumble “Ann.” When asked who was hit, she said “Gary” and tried to spell his last name but nodded off, according to court records.
The investigator wrote in his report that her behavior was “not consistent with someone who had just been involved in a traffic crash” and that he believed her to be impaired. Another investigator trained to detect whether someone is on drugs tried to speak with Koikos and noted that she was “on the nod,” a sign of impairment.
“While speaking with Ms. Koikos, (the officer) had to keep her awake by shaking her shoulder at times,” the probable cause affidavit says. “She then curled back up in the patrol car and began crying again.”
Because of her condition, officers could not conduct field sobriety tests. But they got a search warrant and drew blood. A Florida Department of Law Enforcement analyst found methamphetamine in her blood, along with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, and lorazepam, an anti-anxiety medication. No alcohol was detected.
State Attorney Jack Campbell said he could not discuss facts of the case before trial. But he said he expects Koikos to be formally charged with vehicular homicide and DUI manslaughter. He noted that the facts of a particular case aren’t always covered by a single law.
“Often you will have multiple theories of prosecution so that you can present to the jury each and they can find them guilty of one or the other or both,” Campbell said.
According to court records, Koikos was on probation at the time of the crash for a 2016 incident in which another man, her former fiance, accused her of driving aggressively toward him outside a local animal hospital.
She was arrested in 2017 on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though the charge was later amended down to reckless driving and adjudication was withheld. She was sentenced to six months probation on Sept. 13, 2018.
Autopsy: Diskerud’s head was crushed
Koikos was taken to police headquarters after the Jan. 12 crash and agreed to speak with investigators, waiving her right to remain silent. She said she and Diskerud left her house earlier that morning to go to a friend’s place in Killearn. They stopped at the Circle K near the roundabout before going to an unknown address.
She said Diskerud went into the house for 20 to 30 minutes while she waited for him in the Jeep. When he returned, he took the wheel. She complained about how long he’d been in the house and kept her waiting. Diskerud said, “I’m not doing this.” He got out of the Jeep while it was still in motion and walked away but returned asking for his cell phone.
Koikos said Diskerud grabbed onto the driver’s side window as she began to drive away and roll up the window, according to the probable cause affidavit.
“She further stated she did not speed off but pressed the gas ‘enough to get out of there pretty fast’ but not extremely fast,” the report says. “She then stated she felt the rear tire run over something and looked in the rear view mirror to see Mr. Diskerud lying on the ground.”
She thought she’d only run over his foot and turned the car around and parked to go check on him. When she realized the extent of his injuries, she used Diskerud’s phone to call for help.
The State Medical Examiner’s Office, which conducted an autopsy on Diskerud, found that he died as a result of “crushed head trauma.” Scrapes found on his left thigh indicated he’d been dragged along the ground.
“It appears that when Ms. Koikos drove away, Mr. Diskerud held onto the window until he fell,” the probable cause affidavit says. “After striking the ground, the rear tire of the vehicle ran over Mr. Diskerud’s head.”
Koikos, who spoke with the Democrat as part of a Jan. 25 article, described the crash as a “freak accident.” She volunteered that the crash “wasn’t because of an argument or anything like that.” TPD cited the article in its probable cause affidavit and said her comments to the Democrat contradicted statements she made the day of the crash.
Leon County Judge J. Layne Smith set bail at $10,000 during her first court appearance Tuesday. He also ordered her to undergo drug tests twice a week and alcohol tests once a week.
Koikos, who will also get a mental health evaluation, was in the process of posting bail Tuesday afternoon. Her attorney, David Collins of Monticello, did not immediately return a phone call.
Contact Jeff Burlew at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.