One of the best friends of an Islip man on trial for murder testified Monday that the defendant called him in a panic the night it happened and described the killing.
Thomas Liming, 23, is charged with second-degree murder in the Nov. 16, 2011, death of Kyle Underhill, 18, another friend. Underhill was bludgeoned and choked before he was buried alive in a swampy grave. Liming's defense has not contested that he did it, but has suggested his actions were justified.
"He said Kyle struck him and kept coming at him, so Tom retaliated in self-defense," said Eric Thomesen, as Underhill's mother began to weep in the courtroom. "Kyle kept repeatedly coming at Thomas Liming. He said he beat him to death and left him there."
Monday, Thomesen, 22, a grade school friend of Liming's, told a jury about a series of phone calls that night from Liming and his family. Thomesen, now in the Army and stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, testified in his dress uniform.
The first call that night came shortly after 8 p.m. from Liming's mother, Thomesen said during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Raphael Pearl. "The mother was trying to figure out where Thomas was," he said.
Underhill was last seen at his job at Manhattan Sweets Boutique Bakery in Islip, cleaning up the store with Liming until about 6 p.m. after a brief but intense confrontation with him. Earlier, before Liming showed up, a co-worker testified she overhead Underhill mutter, "I'm going to kill this kid."
Shortly before 9 p.m., there were a few brief calls to Thomesen from the Liming house, but whoever called hung up without speaking, Thomesen said. About 9:15 p.m., police responded to a 911 call describing Liming as the victim of an assault, but Officer Jamel Boswell testified that Liming's mother cut off his interview with her son on the advice of a lawyer.
But before it ended, Boswell testified during cross-examination by defense attorney Joseph Corozzo of Manhattan, Liming said his attacker had threatened him. "He could kill me, and he started describing the ways he could kill me," Liming said, according to Boswell.
Finally, after 11 p.m., Thomesen said Liming got in touch with him.
"He was scattered, saying he did it, he did it," Thomesen said. "I didn't know what he was talking about."
Liming hung up and Thomesen, who was heading home to Centereach, said he turned around and headed toward Islip. About 10 minutes later, he said he called Liming back.
Liming told him he had gone into the Brook Street woods in Islip with Underhill and that he needed help.
Thomesen said Liming asked him to drive by the woods to see if any police were there. Thomesen said he did and told Liming there were none. "I asked, 'Why did you do it?'" Thomesen said. "There was no answer."