MANATEE – A jury this afternoon found a 30-year-old man guilty of beating a man to death after a bad drug deal.
Thomas Louis Pack was arrested after the body of 27-year-old Emerson “Bunky” Martin III was found wrapped in garbage bags and blankets in a Palmetto tree field on Oct. 27, 2008.
Prosecutors said Martin’s head was “caved in like an eggshell” with at least 15 blows.
The jury began deliberations just before 2:30 p.m. today, and came back with a verdict just before 4 p.m.
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Richard Watts, Pack’s attorney, said Pack and Martin were business partners and friends. He claimed that another man, Carlton Randall Jr. showed up at the residence with a revolver and Pack fled out of fear.
Watts said Pack received word that Martin was alright. He turned his phone off and checked into a room at the Rodeway Inn under another name.
When his girlfriend, Shkendra Baker, found the body at their home, he returned to the residence and moved it to the field rather than call authorities.
Pack claims Randall killed Martin. Randall is currently in prison serving a 25-year sentence for an aggravated assault charge in another case.
Evidence in this trial includes a cigarette Pack smoked that investigators found near Martin’s body in the field.
Witnesses told detectives they saw a late-model 1990s black Dodge Durango parked on the property in Palmetto, as well as at the duplex in Bradenton. Pack’s fingerprints were found on the truck.
On Oct. 31, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped a vehicle matching the description in the 2800 block of U.S. 301.
Detectives went to Pack’s residence in Bradenton and found towels in the bathroom that appeared to match the towels found wrapped around Martin’s body, according a warrant.
The apartment had been cleaned and Pack’s prints were found on the cleaning supplies. Blood spatter from Martin was found on three of the walls, according to prosecutors.
The object Martin was beaten with was never located by authorities.
Spencer Rasnake, assistant state attorney, argued Pack was upset at losing money in a drug deal. Martin was given money to start over, but Pack was scraping by, he said pointing to a motive.
While there was physical evidence linking Pack to the murder scene and where Martin was found, no crime scene evidence pointed to Randall.
“There’s no physical evidence to connect Carlton Randall to this crime,” Rasnake said. “What do you have? You know one thing — the words of that man right there.”
He said Pack was the last person to see Martin alive.
“Now hold him accountable,” Rasnake said just before the jury began deliberations.
Sentencing awaits Pack, who is a seven-time convicted felon. He could receive life.
Baker was convicted of accessory after the fact. She has not been sentenced.