Colleen Jenkins of the St. Petersburg Times has issued the following report:
If Michael Pyne (photo) had fought with his fists instead of a knife the night of June 23, 2005, he likely would have made a friend once the chaotic brawl at Ybor City's Masquerade nightclub ended.
Tommy Laskas (photo, with wife Wendy) had a way of winning people over, said his sister, Jaimie Mourer. "'Hey guy, no hard feelings,'" Mourer imagined Laskas would have said. He "probably would have handed you a beer."
Instead, Mourer spoke in place of her younger brother Monday (July 24). Then she and her family and his friends watched as the man who used a knife was sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing Laskas.
It was not the ending anyone had imagined for 29-year-old Laskas, a Gaither High School graduate who lived in Seminole Heights but knew Ybor City as the place where he spread his artistic wings, met and married his muse.
A familiar face to even the homeless people who roamed the area's streets, Laskas went to Masquerade to hear the band CORROSION OF CONFORMITY.
His wife, Wendy Laskas, and a friend accidentally knocked Pyne, a stranger, into a mosh pit during the concert.
They seem to part cordially — Pyne even handed them a business card — but ended up in a brawl about 20 minutes later.
Wendy Laskas and two others were hurt. Tommy Laskas died. The business card helped police nab Pyne.
To avoid a life sentence, the Pinellas Park man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and several counts of aggravated battery and assault.
He will serve 10 years of probation once his prison term ends.
Read the rest of the article at www.sptimes.com.
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