Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No new trial for notorious hockey dad Tom Junta

The most notorious sports parent of all time? It has to be Thomas Junta, the Massachusetts hockey dad who got into an argument with another dad in the locker room of the local rink, left to go to his car, came back to the rink, confronted the other dad, pummeled him with his bare fists and killed him.

It was a highly publicized, wrenchingly tragic case that cost two families their fathers. One died in the brawl. The other has been languishing in prison. (In 2002, a jury convicted Junta of involuntary manslaughter).

The case has been on appeal almost non-stop for eight years and Junta continues to lose every legal fight in state and federal courts. On August 12, Junta's losing streak continued when a U.S. District Court judge nixed Junta's latest plea for a new trial.

Not to wade too deeply into the legalese, but I want to share this about Junta's appeal:

During the trial, the medical examiner testified that the victim, Michael Costin, likely died from a blow (or multiple blows) to the vertebral artery in his neck. That helped win the conviction.

Before the trial, the medical examiner was speaking at a conference, showed slides of Costin's injuries and said the fatal one might have occurred from something less violent - a visit to a chiropractor.

Junta's lawyers said the prosecution did not reveal the medical examiner's statements about the case during the conference. That denied them the chance to question the medical examiner. That, in turn, denied Junta a fair trial and, they argued, entitled their client to a do-over. Last week Junta learned he isn't getting one. Go here for the judge's reasoning.

Junta's sentence was six to 10 years. Appeal or no, he should be a free man soon.

This will be the last post to include the word vertebral.

Thank you Ed Wiest.

1 comment:

Dirk said...

The man is lucky he is in America where we have to put up with the cost of trivial appeals in the name of liberty. He could spend that money on restitution or give it to the positive coaching alliance...
If something like this happened in Iran he might be in for a stoning (unless they reserve that exclusively for females)