Luis Gonzalez is charged with killing 25-year-old Tia Poklemba in 2008. / Marisa Kendall/The News-Press
Gonzalez Luis Gonzalez
Tia Poklemba was internally decapitated by the car that struck her in 2008, the prosecution told Lee County jurors Tuesday as it began a case against the man charged with killing her.
The trial is set to resume this morning.
Luis Gonzalez, 27, is charged with negligent manslaughter and failing to remain at a crash involving death.
“He ran her over once,” Assistant State Attorney Dan Feinberg said. “He backed over her, and he ran her over again.”
Poklemba, 25, was discovered around 2:30 a.m. sitting cross-legged in the middle of a San Carlos Park road, bleeding, with her head between her legs, Feinberg said. She had been there two hours before two men found her while they were delivering newspapers for The News-Press. Poklemba was pronounced dead about half an hour later.
When Gonzalez was accused of the crime, detectives said he and Poklemba were leaving a bar when a struggle ensued inside the car. Poklemba jumped out — her shoes in hand, her phone open and holding a pocketknife. She ran, but Gonzalez rammed into her, knocked her down and backed over her. He drove away, leaving her for dead, according to investigators.
Gonzalez was arrested in Mexico for the crime four years later and extradited to the U.S.
During opening statements, the defense and prosecution agreed Poklemba and Gonzalez met up at the Best Western Spring Resort's Tiki Bar in San Carlos Park the night before she was killed. They left the bar and drove to a 7-Eleven. No one witnessed what happened next.
Feinberg told the jury Poklemba’s DNA was found in the undercarriage of Gonzalez’s Cadillac.
Defense attorney Donald Day told the jury Poklemba and Gonzalez came upon two of Poklemba’s male friends in the parking lot outside the bar. Gonzalez agreed to drive all three to a party. During the ride, Poklemba and one of the friends had several heated arguments, Day said.
Day contrasted the fights to Poklemba’s interactions with Gonzalez that night.
“The bartender will tell you they were talking friendly,” Day said. “There were drinks shared.”
One of Poklemba’s friends threw Gonzalez out of the car and drove off, Day said. Gonzalez found his car later that night in the street with the lights on, engine running, doors open and no one inside, he said.
Day also told the jury the knife found on Poklemba had DNA from two men on it — neither of which belonged to Gonzalez.
The night before Poklemba was killed, Gonzalez had promised to bring a takeout meal from McDonalds home to his pregnant girlfriend after going to the Tiki Bar, the defense and prosecution agreed.
Feinberg argued Gonzalez fled a few days later and never spoke to the girlfriend again — a claim Day disputed.
The prosecution called several first responders to the stand Tuesday, many of whom gave graphic testimony about Poklemba’s condition.
“The ear was just about detached on the left side,” Lige Joseph Jones, with Lee County EMS, said.
Gonzalez, wearing a dark-colored suit, appeared to watch the proceedings attentively. His family sat in the benches behind him. Poklemba’s family, armed with packets of tissues, sat on the other side of the courtroom.
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