LARGO — Kevin Kyne was on trial for killing his mother, but that didn't stop his attorney from pointing to Kyne's stepfather during closing arguments and suggesting he was the real killer.
The two men were the only other people at their Seminole home the day Diane Kyne, 49, was strangled to death in August 2010. They both called 911 to report her death, each accusing the other.
Assistant Public Defender John Swisher suggested to jurors that William Kyne killed his wife to collect on a $500,000 insurance policy and get rid of her son, who at 23 was unemployed and living with them.
But Tuesday evening, jurors sided with prosecutors, who argued that Kevin Kyne killed his mother because he was mad that she had given him a deadline to move out.
The jury found him guilty of second-degree murder. He will be sentenced Aug. 2 and could get up to life in prison.
William Kyne said he suspected he might be accused on Tuesday, but "didn't think it would hit me as hard as it did."
He noted that the trial began last week on his wife's birthday and ended Tuesday, his 55th birthday. "We both got justice on our birthdays," he said.
His initial reaction to the verdict was one of aggravation, he said, because the jury convicted his stepson of second-degree murder instead of premeditated first-degree murder. But, after thinking about it, he said the jury might be right that Kevin "probably just snapped and wound up killing his mom."
During the trial, William Kyne testified that the day his wife was killed he and Kevin were preparing to watch NASCAR. Kevin went into his mother's bedroom, and when William later went to check on her, he saw Kevin on top of her and "it appeared that he (Kevin) was choking her because her head had turned reddish-purple."
To counter claims that William Kyne was the killer, prosecutors countered that the insurance policy had been taken out five years earlier. "Alert the press," said Assistant State Attorney William Loughery, "married couple has insurance on each other."
Loughery said the drops of Kevin Kyne's blood found on his mother's body was a key piece of evidence. Loughery also jabbed at Swisher for pointing to William Kyne in the courtroom during his closing arguments.
Outside the courtroom, William Kyne said he treated Kevin as a son, and part of the sadness he felt was losing Kevin from his life as well.
"Kevin and I were pretty close," he said. "We went to the store together, we went to (auto) races together. … I loved the guy."
William Kyne said the fact that he was accused was ridiculous.
But another father had another reaction. Karl Karakash, Kevin Kyne's biological father, said he believed the defense had proved his son's innocence.
"My kid's still innocent," he said.
Curtis Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8232.