Tags: Killer | Hockey | Dad | Gets | 6-10 | Years

Killer Hockey Dad Gets 6-10 Years

Friday, 25 January 2002 12:00 AM

Thomas Junta, 44, could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the July 5, 2000, death of Michael Costin, 40, in a case that symbolized parental rage over youth sports.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Charles M. Grabau imposed the sentence after hearing victim-impact statements, accepting the recommendation of prosecutors for a state prison sentence and rejecting the defense request for supervised probation or a brief term in a county facility.

"I do not agree with the defense characterization of the events" as a case of self-defense, the judge said.

He took into consideration a 1991 attack in which Junta's wife, Michelle, sought a restraining order against him for "repeatedly beating" her in front of their children at a wedding celebration.

Junta had claimed he was protecting himself when attacked by Costin inside the Burbank Ice Arena in Reading, Mass., after the two engaged in a confrontation over what Junta believed was unnecessarily rough play during what was supposed to be a no-contact stick practice involving their sons and other players.

Witnesses testified that Junta, a 270-pound truck driver who outweighed Costin by more than 100 pounds, pinned the smaller man to the floor and pummeled him repeatedly. Medical experts testified that Costin suffered trauma to 15 parts of his body, and that blunt trauma to his neck severed a major artery and caused fatal internal bleeding.

Before sentencing, members of Costin's family read impact statements. The oldest of his three sons, Brendan, described how he witnessed his father being beaten, "with blood streaming down his face."

"I miss my dad so much," Brendan said. "It's indescribable. It's just a shame that a nice man like him had to leave the Earth like he did."

Another son, Michael, described how Costin would take his sons and daughter and friends anywhere they wanted to go.

"We all want Thomas Junta to go to prison for as long as your honor will put him there," he said.

"I think Mr. Junta was in an awful rage" when he beat Costin, said the victim's mother, Joan Costin, who described how her son worked hard to care for his family. She asked the judge to sentence Junta accordingly.

The victim's sister, Mary Barbuzzi, asked the judge to remember that her family faces "life without Michael."

Sheila Calkins, the assistant district attorney who recommended a sentence of six to 10 years, told the court that Junta "overreacted" to the situation and "could have stopped over and over" but chose not to. She said Junta beat Costin "in front of children who should not have witnessed such an act of violence."

Defense attorney Thomas Orlandi Jr. again claimed the fight was a "mutual combat," a "terrible accident with criminal consequences, a fight between two men that got out of hand."

Orlandi continued to insist Junta was acting in "self-defense" and recommended either supervised probation or six months to be served in a county lockup.

He is "truly sorry" for what happened, and never intended to kill anyone, Orlandi said.

Junta wiped tears from his eyes as Orlandi read letters Junta had written to his son and daughter, who the attorney said did not come to court for the sentencing because they were "too distraught."

The judge said he received many letters from people around the country suggesting how Junta should be punished, but that he would not be swayed by them.

"My sentence is not meant to be a message to anyone in the outside world," the judge said.

After the sentencing, Orlandi said he has already filed motions for an appeal. Junta remained in custody pending his appeal.

At a later news conference, John McEvoy, an assistant prosecutor, said the sentence was a "fair and appropriate resolution to this case."

Flanked by Costin's family, Mary Barbuzzi, the victim's sister, said, "We believe justice has been served."

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Thomas Junta, 44, could have been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the July 5, 2000, death of Michael Costin, 40, in a case that symbolized parental rage over youth sports. Middlesex Superior Court Judge Charles M. Grabau...
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Friday, 25 January 2002 12:00 AM
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