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Six To 10 For Hockey Dad

Thomas Junta, of Reading, Mass., demonstrates a portion of a July 5, 2000 altercation, which took place between Junta and Michael Costin, while taking the stand during his trial in Middlesex Superior Court, in Cambridge, Mass., Wednesday, Jan 9, 2002. Junta, 44, is accused of manslaughter in the death of Costin, 40, who allegedly was beaten unconscious by Junta in front of several children on July 5, 2000. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)
AP
Citing "aggravating circumstances," a judge sentenced hockey dad Thomas Junta to between six and 10 years in jail for the beating death of Michael Costin. Junta was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the beating death of another hockey father after their kids' practice.

The judge said the defense's recommendations for a short sentence were "unrealistic." Junta, 44, had asked to be put on supervised probation with community service. He had faced up to 20 years.

Prior to the sentencing, the victim's son Michael said "No matter how much of a sentence that you give to Thomas Junta, my dad got more."

Junta, 44, sat handcuffed, with his head hung low as Costin's three sons, Costin's sister and Costin's mother spoke at his sentencing. He wiped his eyes as his attorney spoke about his own son.

Prosecutors have called Junta a bully, while his supporters had described him as a devoted husband and father who fell victim to "a very bad set of circumstances."

These two starkly different pictures of the 270-pound truck driver began to emerge through testimony at his sentencing Friday.

Junta faces anywhere from probation to 20 years in prison for his Jan. 11 conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Costin, 40.

State sentencing guidelines recommend a term of three to five years for a first-time offender such as Junta. But the judge is not bound by the guidelines.

The two men fought after Junta objected to rough play during a pickup hockey game in July 2000. Costin was supervising his three sons, Junta's son and several other boys on the ice.

The jury found that Junta did not intend to kill Costin, but went too far during the fight at the Burbank Ice Arena in suburban Boston.

Junta's wife, Michelle, was granted a restraining order against her husband in 1991 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.

In 1992, police arrested Junta on charges he punched a Boston police officer and ripped a gold chain off his neck, according to court documents. Junta was not convicted — the case was continued without a finding after he admitted to sufficient facts — but a Boston Municipal Court judge ordered him to pay the officer $250 in restitution.

Costin's father, Gus, said Costin had a drinking problem and had been in and out of prison for much of his adult life. But in the final few years of his life, he had quit drinking and was working steadily as a carpenter and painter.

Six months before he was killed, he regained custody of his children.

The jurors in Junta's trial never heard about Costin's troubled past, which included seven prison stints between 1983 and 1995 on charges of breaking and entering, drunken driving and assaulting a police officer. They also never heard that he had taken antidepressants for years ad had spent time in psychiatric hospitals.

Junta has seven brothers and five sisters; most of them were in the courtroom every day of his trial, often hugging him and patting his arm during recesses. Junta's sister, Barbara Tracy, said she hoped the judge would consider the circumstances of the fight when sentencing her brother.

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