NASHVILLE, TN — Lesa Buchanan, a 35-year-old aspiring model and the girlfriend of plastic surgeon Dr. Christ Koulis, breathed her last breath on July 4, 2005.
Single mother Buchanan succumbed to a drug overdose, courtesy of her lover, whom she met six years earlier while dropping by his office to inquire about a procedure.
In 2002, Koulis had been arrested twice for being excessively freewheeling when it came to prescription pills, as well as for sexual shenanigans involving patients — once in Tennessee, and again in Kentucky.
The second incident involved Buchanan. It landed her in a hospital and him facing charges of drug trafficking.
Koulis copped a plea and got probation. His medical license was temporarily suspended but — rather insanely — he was allowed to practice again in a short while, after relocating to Illinois.
Perhaps even more stunningly, Buchanan reignited her love affair with Koulis, although Lesa’s mother Peggy Roberts suggested it was no simple romance. She told the press:
“[Koulis] just would not allow it to end. He would continuously call her every few minutes. And [Buchanan] tried changing her cell phone number. Somehow he would get it. I know there was a time where she changed it three times. And, yet, he would get the number anyway. He was very, very persuasive and he could talk his way into anything.”
After a period of long-distance intimacy and/or intimidation, Koulis traveled to Nashville to spend the 2005 Independence Day holiday with Buchanan.The couple reportedly then embarked on a multi-day, drug-powered sex-fest in her bedroom that ended with Buchanan in the emergency room. She didn’t make it back out of the hospital.
While ER medics attempted to revive Buchanan, Koulis reportedly stood idly by, claiming he didn’t know what happened and denying that she was on any drugs. Buchanan’s body overflowed with a “slush” of oxycodone and other insanely powerful narcotics, which had been injected at least 18 times into her bloodstream.
Police later found blood, empty bottles, and “a lot” of syringes littering bedroom floor. The only explanation Koulis offered, though, was that his girlfriend collapsed after swimming in the backyard pool.
Investigators later determined that Buchanan was not an active addict, indicating that the introduction of these drugs, especially at so volcanic a level, was an isolated incident.
As other evidence built, a videotape the couple made of themselves having sex all weekend provided even more clues — or it didn’t. Opinions varied. Either way, prosecutors chose to screen the two-hour video during Koulis’s 2007 trial for second-degree murder and reckless homicide.
On the video, Buchanan seems to start off willing and enthusiastic, but as the tapes play on, she becomes sluggish and cathartic, on the verge of passing out. At one point, she holds gauze against fresh injection wounds around her crotch. Koulis tells her, “Put pressure on it.”
Some observers believe the video backfired on the prosecutors. The jury quickly returned a verdict of not guilty on the most serious charges, but they did convict Koulis of criminally negligent homicide. The judge gave him two years. But Koulis walked free on a $500,000 bond while his attorneys filed an onslaught of appeals that kept him out of jail.
On December 18, 2010, Koulis himself died from a drug overdose. He never served a single day of his sentence.
In a turn of events that should seem as unlikely as Koulis initially getting his medical license reinstated, his lawyer, David Raybin, filed to have the conviction vacated on the grounds that his client died with the case was still being appealed.
Raybin won the decision. In addition, Koulis’s death was ruled “accidental.” He went to eternal rest with his name cleared. Lesa Buchanan just remained dead all the while.
Main photo: Christ Koulis on evidence video/Dateline [screen shot]