BRADENTON — A day doesn’t go by without 74-year-old Emerson Martin Jr. thinking about his slain son.
“It’s not the same. None of it’s been the same,” said Martin, standing Friday in his driveway.
His son, Emerson “Bunky” Martin III, was 27 when he was found slain in a palm tree field in Palmetto on Oct. 27, 2008. His body was found in two garbage bags, and officials say he was bludgeoned to death.
Today, Martin will appear before Circuit Court Judge Gilbert Smith in court to watch his son’s accused killer, 30-year-old Thomas L. Pack, stand trial on a second-degree murder charge.
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If convicted, Pack could be sentenced to life in prison.
“I hope he gets just what’s coming to him,” Martin said. “Bunky was a good boy. He didn’t bother anybody.”
A weapon was never recovered, and investigators say they never determined a motive.
Pack was arrested in Sarasota almost a month after Martin’s slaying; Pack’s fingerprints and Martin’s blood were found in a black Dodge Durango and in his duplex in the 200 block of 10th Avenue East in Bradenton. According to arrest warrant affidavits, the evidence suggests that Martin may have been killed before being dumped in the palm field. Pieces of a Dodge Durango were found near Martin’s body in Palmetto along with a cigarette Pack apparently had smoked.
Witnesses told detectives they had seen a late-model 1990s black Dodge Durango parked on the property in Palmetto, as well as at the duplex in Bradenton. 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.
Ta Heem Blake on trial
Pack’s trial is one of two murder trials that will take place this week at Manatee Judicial Center.
Ta Heem Blake, 19, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Maria Lerma, 55, in a Feb. 1, 2009, home invasion robbery.
Blake and another former Palmetto High School student, Marquis Sanders, broke into Lerma’s Bradenton home through a sliding glass door, investigators say. One of the other residents in the home shot Blake, severing his spine.
Blake has since regained slight movement to his hands and can turn his head. Jury selection will begin Monday with Circuit Court Judge Debra Riva presiding.
Sanders was previously convicted and sentenced to life in prison.