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Man sentenced to life in 2004 Zephyrhills double murder

Kyle Aric Thomas, 33, pleaded no contest Thursday to two counts of first-degree murder. He said he remembers nothing of the bloody events inside the Zephyrhills mobile home in 2004.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Kyle Aric Thomas, 33, pleaded no contest Thursday to two counts of first-degree murder. He said he remembers nothing of the bloody events inside the Zephyrhills mobile home in 2004.

DADE CITY — After Kyle Aric Thomas murdered his father and his father's girlfriend in late December 2004, authorities said, he spent more than a week inside their Zephyrhills mobile home with the bodies, the thermostat set to 55 degrees.

He ordered pizza and played computers games.

Then he fled.

When detectives caught up with him later in Georgia, where his mother lives, Thomas said he remembered nothing about the days surrounding the murders. A heroin addict who had been getting methadone treatments, he claimed he had been in a drug-induced stupor.

On Thursday, more than five years after the bodies of Craig Thomas and Irene Rita Martin were discovered, stabbed and beaten, in the home on Lawanda Loop, Thomas pleaded no contest to their murders. He was adjudicated guilty and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

The state was seeking the death penalty in the case, which was set for trial next month.

Thomas, 33, made no statement when he was sentenced.

Afterward, his mother, Linda Cosgrove, maintained her son's innocence.

"He didn't do it, but we didn't want to risk the death penalty," she said through tears. "It's just sad all the way around. It's a tragedy, and a lot of it has to do with finances."

She added: "He loves his dad."

Even with Thomas' plea, the case remains a disturbing mystery. Among the unanswered questions: Why was the couple killed?

Margaret Martin talked with her sister frequently by phone. She told investigators that father and son had been arguing over whether Kyle Thomas should return to Georgia, where he was wanted on a warrant for violating his probation.

After she didn't hear from her sister for two weeks, Margaret Martin contacted police from her home in Maine.

There were no signs of forced entry at the Zephyrhills home, and police had to get a locksmith to let them in.

The bodies were discovered in the bathroom. Irene Martin, 45, was nearly decapitated. An autopsy determined she and Craig Thomas, 54, had been stabbed multiple times and hit with a blunt object.

Tests in the home showed the carpets and furniture had been cleaned of blood, court documents say.

Kyle Thomas claims to remember none of it. He told detectives he woke up on Dec. 23 to find the bodies and the sanitized scene.

After that, Thomas not only ordered pizza, but complained to Pizza Hut about his order.

A free pizza was delivered to him Dec. 26.

Craig Thomas and Rita Martin had moved to Florida in 1997. Thomas' brother, Brian Thomas of Tampa, told the Times in 2005 that the two were soulmates, though they lived on modest disability income and couldn't afford to get married.

When Craig Thomas' car broke down, Brian gave him a 1979 gray Oldsmobile Toronado.

It became Craig Thomas' most prized possession. Then it became Kyle Thomas' getaway car, which he used to flee to Georgia. He was captured there Jan. 6, 2005, the day he was declared a suspect.

Reached Thursday, Brian Thomas said he wished the case had been resolved sooner because Martin's twin brother died last week.

"He was so upset when this happened. I guess he knows about it wherever he's at," Brian Thomas said.

As for himself, he said, "the saddest part of the whole thing is not knowing what really happened."

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Man sentenced to life in 2004 Zephyrhills double murder 05/13/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 9:16pm]

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