Hockey dad sentenced to 6 to 10 years

Saturday, January 26, 2002

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The father who beat another man to death at their sons' hockey practice was sentenced to six to 10 years in prison Friday after the dead man's 13-year-old boy urged a judge to "teach him a lesson."

"Let the world know that a person can't do what he did to my family," Michael Costin said in an unwavering voice. "No matter how much of a sentence that you give to Thomas Junta, my dad got more."

Junta, 44, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter earlier this month for beating Michael Costin, 40, on July 5, 2000, in one of the country's most shocking episodes of a parent losing control at a child's sporting event. Junta and Costin argued after Junta got angry over rough play on the ice.

Junta testified at his trial that he tried to avoid a fight and only struck Costin in self-defense. A medical examiner said Costin suffered severe brain injuries, and others said Junta pounded Costin's head and was red-faced with rage.

The burly truck driver could have gotten up to 20 years in prison.

Judge Charles Grabau followed the prosecutors' recommended sentence, though it called it "most generous" and said he had considered exceeding it.

Junta made only a brief statement, saying in a low, barely audible voice: "I'd just like to apologize to both families and thank my family for all their support for me." He did not call any character witnesses.

Junta sat handcuffed, his head hung low, as Costin's children, sister, mother and father told the judge how the slaying had affected their lives.

"I can still remember being hysterical trying to wake him up as the blood streamed down his face," said Brendan, 14, Costin's oldest son.

Junta sobbed as his lawyer read from letters Junta wrote to his two children. Junta's 12-year-old son, Quinlan, witnessed the fight and testified for his father at the trial.

"Remember, you told the truth," Junta wrote. "Remember, hockey is supposed to be fun, but it's just a game."

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