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Man pleads guilty in fatal stabbing at Ybor club

He will be sentenced July 24 on the six charges that stem from a 2005 brawl.

By COLLEEN JENKINS
Published July 14, 2006


TAMPA - At another time and place, Michael Pyne and Thomas Laskas might have been friends. They both worked at tattoo parlors, liked heavy metal music and hung out in Ybor City.

But there wasn't time for sharing mutual interests during their brief and chaotic encounter on June 23, 2005.

When it was over, Laskas, 29, had fatal stab wounds from Pyne's knife.

On Thursday, 40-year-old Pyne pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and five other charges stemming from a brawl at Ybor City's Masquerade nightclub.

He will be sentenced July 24.

Witnesses said the fight started after Laskas' wife, Wendy Laskas, and a friend accidentally knocked Pyne into the mosh pit as the band Corrosion of Conformity played. The three seemed to part with no hard feelings. Pyne even gave them a business card for the tattoo parlor where he worked.

But 20 minutes later, Pyne's girlfriend picked a fight with Wendy Laskas' friend. Wendy Laskas jumped in, a witness said, and fell to the ground with Pyne's girlfriend.

As Thomas Laskas and other men tried to break up the fight, Pyne started punching and stabbing people.

Blood was everywhere. Wendy Laskas and two others were injured. Thomas Laskas died from his wounds at Tampa General Hospital.

Pyne's business card helped lead police to him.

The Pinellas Park man, whose criminal record includes prior violent acts, remains in jail.

He initially was charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder but is being allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges of second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. He also faces two counts each of aggravated battery with a knife and aggravated assault with a knife.

The sentencing likely will be emotional. Friends of Thomas Laskas, who lived in Seminole Heights, said he was his wife's soul mate.

Wendy Laskas sued Masquerade on behalf of her husband's estate for wrongful death, alleging the club's owners were negligent when they allowed Pyne to carry a knife into the club. The lawsuit has not been resolved.

Colleen Jenkins can be reached at 813 226-3337 or cjenkins@sptimes.com.

[Last modified July 14, 2006, 05:52:29]


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