Three gunshots, then a scream. Neighbor testifies in FSU student murder trial

Nicole Nachtman, right, is on trial in Hillsborough County Court for the murder of her mother and step-father in their Carollwood home. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
Nicole Nachtman, right, is on trial in Hillsborough County Court for the murder of her mother and step-father in their Carollwood home. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Jul. 25, 2019

TAMPA — Wesley Roe was chatting with his teenage daughter the night of Aug. 20, 2015 when he heard three loud noises outside their home on a quiet Carrollwood cul-de-sac.


A pause.

Pop! Pop!

He wondered if it was kids playing with fireworks. Then he heard a scream.

"It wasn't a kid's scream," Roe said. "It was kind of a scream of agony or disbelief."

Roe was the first witness to testify Thursday morning in the trial of Nicole Nachtman, his former next-door neighbor. Nachtman, 25, a former Florida State University student, is accused of murdering her mother and stepfather at their home that August night four years ago.

Previous coverage: 'Damaged person' or calculated killer? FSU student on trial for murder

After hearing what he now thought could be gunshots, Roe went to a living room window. He saw a shadowy figure run between his house and the home next door, where Myriam and Robert Dienes lived. He couldn't tell who it was.

He told his daughter to hide in a closet. He dialed 911.

A call-taker told him a deputy was en route. After hanging up, he looked outside again.

At the foot of his driveway, he spotted an object. Looking closer, he could make out a pair of shoes and some blue jeans. He realized it was a body.

He called 911 again.

"It looks like somebody at the end of our driveway got shot," Roe says, his voice panicked in a recording of the call. "They're laying on the ground. … Can you get a deputy here now?"

As Roe stayed on the phone, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Dep. Michael Pecylak pulled up to the dim-lit street.

The deputy testified he walked up to what would later be identified as the body of Myriam Dienes. He could see blood. He checked for a pulse and found none. A bullet shell casing lay near her head.

Background: Is former FSU student a battered child, mentally ill or a liar? A jury in her murder trial will be asked to decide

Investigators would later find two other casings nearby, along with a single unspent bullet, a .380 caliber Horandy.

Pecylak went to Roe's front door with other arriving deputies. They asked if they could search his house and Roe let them.

They found the front door of the Dienes home open. They went inside and made a room-to-room search. Behind a locked bedroom door was the body of Robert Dienes.

A crime scene technician took the jury on a virtual tour of the home, narrating while showing a series of more than 400 photographs of the crime scene.

There were images of Robert Dienes lying on his back, a bullet wound to the rear of his head. There were also images of a blue and white Titleist golf cap, retrieved from a washing machine. On the back, a small hole was torn through the fabric.

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Investigators noted tiny red spots and streaks on walls and floors throughout the home. In the kitchen and garage, they found a mop, a bucket with more red spots on the sides and a carton of bleach. A faucet in one of the bedrooms was smudged red. Tests indicated the marks were blood.

Myriam Dienes' purse and a set of keys were found in a dining room, indicating she went inside the home before she was shot. The purse held a receipt dated Aug. 20 from a store in Jacksonville, where she had spent several days on a work-related trip.

An open bedside table in the master bedroom held a small handgun case. Inside was a magazine clip which held 13 Horandy .380 bullets.

On a white wall adjacent to the bedroom where Robert Dienes was found, investigators noticed a faint pink mark. Looking closer, they could see a fingerprint in blood. A prosecutor said Wednesday that the print belonged to Nachtman.

Read more: Doctor testifies former FSU student turned murder suspect was abused

Roe told a jury he wasn't particularly close with his neighbors. He knew them enough to say hello when he saw them.

A few years before, his daughter had gone trick-or-treating on Halloween with Nachtman, who was by then in her later years of high school.

Roe described Nachtman as introverted and strange.

A few hours before he heard the gunshots, he said he had seen her in a grassy area between their homes. She was opening a bedroom window from the outside and it looked like she was placing books or notebooks into the room. She walked away, leaving the window open.

Nachtman would later be arrested at Florida State University. She initially told investigators she was at the school when her mother and stepfather were killed.

Her defense has argued that Nachtman was insane at the time of the alleged crimes.

The trial is expected to last through the end of next week.

Contact Dan Sullivan at Follow @TimesDan.