LARGO — Kevin Kyne, convicted in 2012 of murdering his mother in their Seminole home, should get a new trial, a Florida appeals court ruled on Friday.
Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley erred by allowing the jury to hear about Kyne's "prior violent disputes" with his stepfather, William Kyne, according to the ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
"We're pleased with the opinion and look forward to trying the case again," Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger said. "We always said that evidence should not have been admitted."
Diane Kyne, 49, was strangled and smothered in her house in August 2010. The only other people home at the time were her son and husband. Both men blamed the other, and reported the killing in separate 911 calls.
Prosecutors pointed to physical evidence in making their case against Kevin, which included drops of his blood found on his mother's body. They also discussed increasing friction between mother and son, including arguments about when he would move out of the house and how he would monopolize a family computer.
The appeals court did not find fault with this evidence, but it did criticize comments made about disputes between Kevin and William, calling it "wholly unconnected" to whether Kevin killed his mother.
Instead, that evidence amounted to "nothing more than inadmissible testimony concerning Kevin's bad character," the court said. The state had argued it was necessary to present this background in order to fully understand how the crime unfolded.
Kyne was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The 2010 case received wide local media coverage, and was featured last year on the Investigation Discovery channel.
A new trial date has not been set. But Kyne, currently in a North Florida prison, will eventually be brought back to the Pinellas County Jail for further court proceedings.