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'Hockey dad' gets 6 to 10 years for fatal beating

Thomas Junta listens as Michael Costin's family testifies about the impact of his death.  

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (CNN) -- A Massachusetts judge sentenced Thomas Junta to six to 10 years in state prison for the beating death of Michael Costin, 40, in a fight after a youth hockey practice in which the sons of both men participated.

A jury of nine women and three men found Junta guilty of involuntary manslaughter January 11, rejecting the more serious charge of manslaughter, which carries a 20-year maximum prison term.

Acting on the state prosecutors' recommendation, Judge Charles Grabau gave Junta double what the Massachusetts sentencing guidelines outline for such a sentence.

"Let the world know that a person can't do what Thomas Junta did to my dad, to my family and to me ... "
- Michael Costin, Jr., son of victim
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Before the sentence was read, Costin's family painted an image of him as a devoted father. They countered reports in the media that Costin, a single father of four, had a violent past, noting that he had taken classes to confront his shyness.

His sons, hoping to extend Junta's sentence, told the courtroom how their father's death has affected them.

CNN's Bill Delaney reports convicted hockey dad Thomas Junta was sentenced to 6 to 10 years for the beating death of Michael Costin (January 24)

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"I saw Thomas Junta beating my dad into the ground. For the rest of that day and for the next day, my heart was in my throat," said Michael Costin Jr. "Please teach Thomas Junta a lesson: Let the world know that a person can't do what Thomas Junta did to my dad, to my family and to me ... we all want Thomas Junta to go to prison for as long as your honor can put him there."

On July 5, 2000, Junta -- a 6-foot-1, 270-pound truck driver -- fought twice with Costin, who was 6 feet tall and weighed 156 pounds.

The second fight proved fatal for Costin. The two men had argued over what Junta described as rough play during hockey drills that both men's sons were participating in at the Burbank Ice Arena in Reading, Massachusetts.

Junta's attorneys have described him as a "gentle giant" who was only trying to defend himself in his fight with Costin.

"This was a fight between two men that got out of hand," said Junta's attorney, Thomas Orlandi Jr., "He is, in no way, a threat to society."

Junta is married with two children. In an attempt to help his family, Orlandi asked the judge Friday to consider alternatives to incarceration for Junta, who Orlandi said does not have a past criminal record. Orlandi requested Junta be placed on "closely supervised probation" so he could perform his duties to his family as the sole breadwinner and also pay his debt to the state.
Michael Costin Jr. testifies Friday at the sentencing hearing for Thomas Junta.  

The defense attorney noted that Junta is a "hardworking, honest" and "responsible" man who fully cooperated with police following the incident, and during the trial.

"All the families have suffered ... his children couldn't be here, they were so distraught," Orlandi said, adding that Junta's role in the fatal altercation did not represent who his client really is.

Involuntary manslaughter is an unintentional killing as a result of a battery in which the defendant knew or should have known a human life was endangered.




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