LARGO — Dwayne Glenn heard a gunshot early one morning in October 2006, and told his mother to call 911. Then he rushed outside, where he saw a man lying in the street.
"He was writhing in pain going ohh like he was really hurting," said Glenn, a barber. And then, Glenn recognized the man in the road. Hoeschele Thomas had been a friend of his for more than 20 years. Glenn had cut his hair the day before.
"He shot me," his injured friend told him. "Man, it hurts so bad."
But Thomas didn't or couldn't identify his killer.
More than six years have passed since Thomas, 48, was killed in the 12700 block of 118th Street N, less than a mile from his home in the Largo area.
But this week Lloyd "Pooh" Neal, 23, went on trial for second-degree murder in connection with the killing. He was only 17 at the time of the shooting.
"He murdered a man named Hoeschele Thomas, for no real reason at all," said Assistant State Attorney Christopher Klemawesch, pointing to Neal in the courtroom.
Klemaswesch called the killing "a criminal act that shows no regard for human life," and said prosecutors would prove Neal guilty of second-degree murder. He said it was not a premeditated killing.
Defense attorney Keith Hammond said there was no disputing the fact that someone killed Thomas, but "the question is whether this person here committed that crime."
He said the state's case rests on various people with criminal histories and questionable credibility. If jurors listen closely to the evidence, he said, they will find Neal innocent.
Both sides stayed away from one point: Neal already is serving a mandatory life sentence for a different murder, the 2007 shooting of Julian "Rat Rat" Kaigler in front of Clearwater's Palmetto Park Apartments.
Juries usually aren't told information like this because it's not considered evidence of whether the defendant committed the current crime in question.
Thomas was shot once with a .380-caliber pistol on Oct. 29, 2006.
Pinellas County Sheriff's officials have said Thomas was walking home when he was approached by people in a car who offered to sell him drugs. When he declined, an argument ensued.
With few leads, the case went cold until the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office revived it.
Sgt. John Spoor, then a detective, helped tie the bullets used in the Thomas shooting to another drive-by shooting in Clearwater and further investigation led to Neal.
The trial resumes today.
Times Staff Writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8232.