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Friday, 11 January, 2002, 23:49 GMT
Hockey killing father convicted
Thomas Junta
Junta now faces up to 20 years in jail
A jury in Massachusetts has found a man who beat another parent to death at their sons' ice hockey practice guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Thomas Junta, a 44-year-old truck driver, was found guilty of killing fellow "hockey dad" Michael Costin, 40.

Accused's son Quinlan giving evidence in court
Quinlan Junta said he begged his father to stop

Costin had been supervising an ice hockey training session at a club where both men's sons played.

Involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum jail term of 20 years. Junta will be sentenced on 25 January.

Junta's 12-year-old son, Quinlan, told the Massachusetts court on Thursday that he had seen his father repeatedly punch Costin during a violent confrontation.

Junta, who at 124 kilograms (275lbs) was 45 kilograms (100lbs) heavier than his victim, had claimed he acted in self defence.

Relatives of Michael Costin
Costin's family was in court to hear the verdict
The incident occurred after rough play by several children at the skating rink in what was supposed to be a "non-contact" practice.

The two men had been arguing over tactics in a game in which Junta's son was taking part in July 2000.

"I saw my dad and then I saw Mr Costin on his back, I saw him flip [Costin] over his shoulders," he said.

"He was trying to punch and kick him, my dad, to get him off. My dad hit him three times really quick."

Scuffle

Quinlan Junta said that when older players allegedly began hitting younger team members, including his son, Junta had told Costin to control the children.

Thomas Junta
Junta demonstrated what kind of rough play had been going on
Later, after Quinlan was elbowed by another older player as he left the rink, Costin and Junta began arguing by the locker room.

The two men scuffled briefly, then later a more violent fight reportedly broke out as workers and bystanders tried to intervene, some screaming at the pair to stop.

Costin then slumped to the floor unconscious and died the next day in hospital.


I remember thinking at the time, he's either going to kill this man or he's going to have brain damage

Witness Virginia Brings
Witnesses' accounts of the fights have differed in the courtroom. Ryan Carr, 21, described Junta as halting the blows when Costin appeared to act in a defensive manner.

However an employee of the skating rink, Nancy Blanchard, said that she saw Junta hit Costin at least six times.

"I remember screaming, 'You're going to kill him'," she said.

Another witness, Virginia Brings, said she had shouted at Junta to stop hitting Costin after she says he appeared to stop responding.

"I remember thinking at the time, he's either going to kill this man or he's going to have brain damage."

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Standley
"More than a dozen children witnessed the fatal fight"
See also:

09 Jan 02 | Americas
Hockey death trial hears son testify
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