Hockey Dad Sentenced in Manslaughter Case

ByABC News
January 24, 2002, 2:01 PM

Jan. 25 -- Thomas Junta the hockey dad convicted of beating another father to death at their sons' hockey practice was sentenced today to six to 10 years in prison.

Before announcing his decision, Middlesex Superior Court Judge Charles Grabau rebuked Junta's defense for introducing criticism of the victim, Michael Costin, into its pleas for lenient sentencing and pointed out that this incident was not the first time Junta had "struck another adult in front of his minor children."

Grabau also dismissed any suggestion that the sentence was meant as a warning to parents to restrain themselves at their children's sporting events.

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

The judge's rebuke was in reference to an incident in 1991, when Junta's wife, Michelle, was granted a restraining order against him when she alleged he beat her continuously in front of their two children and another child. A court ordered Junta out of the couple's Charlestown neighborhood apartment, and gave his wife temporary custody of the children.

Junta could have received up to 20 years in prison, but Massachusetts guidelines call for leniency for first-time offenders. Prosecutor Sheila Calkin asked for a sentence of six to 10 years in state prison.

Junta's defense attorney asked for either an alternative sentence of closely supervised probation that would allow Junta to avoid prison and remain with his family, or for a minimum sentence with credit for time served.

Earlier this month, a jury found the 44-year-old father guilty of involuntary manslaughter for his actions in the July 2000 incident, when he killed Michael Costin in a fight after hockey scrimmage, but rejected the more serious charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Victims Family Satisfied

Junta sat, head bowed and his hands folded in his lap, as members of Costin's family read memorials to the victim. Two of his sons described him as a quiet man who gave his all to his children, and his sister pleaded for a stiff sentence.