Listening to Thomas Junta on the stand yesterday once again baffled my mind as to how hideously immature grown adults can be, and what tragic consequences can result from such behavior.
In what has been labeled as the most extreme case of “sideline rage,” 42-year old truck driver Thomas Junta is facing manslaughter charges for his senseless beating of 40-year old Michael Costin on July 5, 2000 in Reading, Mass. Junta faces 20 years in prison if convicted of the crime.
But that”s not enough. Junta”s heinous act proves that he should spend many more years in prison, and not be given responsibility of his children when he returns. Parenting is an important privilege, and he just lost it.
Sure, parents go off the deep end sometimes when intensely watching their kids play the sports they love. Sports are all about emotions, and sometimes these get the better of usually respectable men and women when they argue bad calls by referees, harass coaches over playing time and even get into shouting matches with other parents.
But they don”t beat each other to death.
Not only was this horrific incident a eye-opening example of parents taking children”s sports way too seriously, but could also be the most hypocritical form of violence I”ve ever seen by a supposed role model and father of two.
Junta was apparently upset when Costin, who was supervising several children in their routine “stick practice,” let the hockey scrimmage involving nine-to-11 year olds get “too chippy.” Junta didn”t like the fact that there was some elbowing and “cheap shots” being allowed and didn”t like Costin”s response even more.
“He said, “That”s hockey. That”s what it”s all about,” ” Junta said on the stand. “Bull. It”s not. It”s supposed to be fun.”
At least Junta made one good point. Sports are supposed to be fun, not deadly. When played, sports are to be taken seriously by competitors, but not over-analyzed by parents.
Junta”s comments would lead one to believe he realizes the “fun” in sports, but his actions spoke otherwise.
In just a few minutes, Junta”s apparent chivalrous and maternal thoughts of caring for his son”s well-being transformed into an animal-like, enraged Junta pelting Costin”s head turning Junta from truck driver and father into Mike Tyson.
Outweighing Costin by nearly 100 pounds, Junta still claims that it was in self-defense that he pinned Costin to the floor, punched him until both of his hands were sore and then slammed his head against the ground a few more times for good measure. This came minutes after Junta was kicked out of the arena, only to force his way back into the doors and bruising the same arena assistant manager that kicked him out.
As for “defending himself” yeah right, who”s kidding who here?
The worst part of the event was Junta”s audience. Junta”s crowd for “Fight Night In Reading” was nearly a dozen young children, including his own son. Not to mention another small boy, one of Costin”s sons, who was seen by a witness crying and grabbing at the men, pleading:
“That”s my daddy,” the boy sobbed.
“Daddy” lay motionless, his color was ashen gray and his eyes open, staring straight ahead. He had suffered deep hemmorages on the left side of his neck and a torn artery in the brain after being beaten severely.
The coroner called the autopsy photos “horrific.” I call them tragic.
The first officer to make it to the arena said he immediately yelled for the children to be moved away from the “traumatic” scene and began CPR on Costin.
But it was too late, the damage had been done.
And Junta”s response explaining the extent of his barrage on Costin: “He could”ve been a black belt for all I know.”
Nope, Costin wasn”t a black belt. Just a father, who will leave three kids behind.
All because of some “chippy play” in hockey practice and an adult that couldn”t act his age.
Joe Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.