|Thursday, April 3
Defense claims a witness 'hyped up' his testimony
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A man convicted of beating another man to death at their sons' hockey practice wants a new trial, with his lawyer contending that a prosecution witness exaggerated the severity of the attack.
Brownlow Speer, a lawyer for Thomas Junta, said Thursday the prosecution kept information from the defense that could have been used to undermine the testimony of a medical examiner who testified that ''substantial force'' caused the death of Michael Costin.
Junta was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for beating the 40-year-old Costin on July 5, 2000, in one of the country's most flagrant episodes of parental rage at youth sports. He was sentenced last year to six to 10 years in prison.
Judge Charles Grabeau did not indicate when he would rule on the request for a new trial.
Junta's lawyers contend prosecutors failed to inform them before the trial of a presentation medical examiner Stanton Kessler made to other forensic experts at a conference the previous year.
''Dr. Kessler hyped up his opinion to meet the manslaughter standard,'' Speer said.
Prosecutors argued Kessler's presentation did not rule out that the injury could also have been caused by major trauma. During the trial, Kessler testified that Costin died of blunt trauma to the head and neck, including a severe brain injury.
Kessler, speaking from Hamilton County, Tenn., where he is deputy medical examiner, stood by his testimony.
''It was substantial force in this case, no question,'' he said.