MANATEE — A 30-year-old man was convicted of second-degree murder after a man was found bludgeoned to death in a field 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 of six men and one woman deliberated for about an hour and a half before rendering its guilty verdict. The state is asking for the maximum sentence of life in prison.
Pack requested a date for sentencing and snapped at his attorney, Richard Watts, shortly after he was found guilty.
“What part don’t you understand? It seems like you don’t understand a lot,” he said before being led back in handcuffs saying he would beat the conviction on appeal.
Pack will be sentenced at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 7. Watts argued Pack and Martin were business partners and friends. He claimed that another man, Carlton Randall Jr., showed up at Pack’s 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.
Spencer Rasnake, assistant state attorney, argued those actions made Pack look guilty.
“Would a killer check into a hotel under someone else’s name and hide out? Of course he would,” he told the jury.
Rasnake 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 have one thing — the words of that man right there.”
He said Pack was the last person to see Martin alive.
When Pack’s girlfriend, Shkendra Baker, found the body at their home, Pack returned to the residence and moved it to the field rather than call authorities.
Baker was convicted of accessory after the fact. She has not been sentenced.
Pack claims Randall killed Martin. Randall is in prison serving a 25-year sentence for an aggravated assault charge in another case.
Evidence in this trial included a burnt cigarette that Pack smoked 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 after he had to push the truck when it became stuck in the field.
On Oct. 31, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped the truck in the 2800 block of U.S. 301. The traffic stop led investigators to Pack’s residence in Bradenton where they 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.