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Father of Slain Dad Forgives Junta

January 11, 2002

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ The father of the man beaten to death at his sons’ hockey practice told the suspect Friday that he holds no animosity against him for killing his son.

Gus Costin, 68, said he put his hand on Thomas Junta’s shoulder in the hallway of the Middlesex Superior Court building and told him: ``I don’t hate you. I forgive you.″

``He nodded at me and said, ’Thank you,‴ Costin said, adding that Junta shook his hand.

Junta, 44, faces up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted of manslaughter in the death of Costin’s son. Deliberations continued for a second day Friday in the case that has drawn attention to the behavior of parents at their children’s sporting events.

Junta claimed he was defending himself when he beat Michael Costin, 40, into unconsciousness during an argument over rough play at the hockey scrimmage two years ago. Several young skaters, including the men’s sons, witnessed the fight between the 270-pound Junta and Costin, who was an inch shorter and 114 pounds smaller.

The elder Costin has a unique perspective in this case: In 1976, he was convicted of manslaughter in the death of his son, Dennis, who died of a knife wound. Gus Costin has said his son charged at him.

Costin said he also spoke to Junta’s mother in the courthouse.

``I said, ‘I know what you’re going through. I’m praying for you,″ he said. ``And she said ’Thank you.‴

Costin said it has taken some time for him to forgive Junta.

``What he did was terrible. He was wrong to do what he did, but I can’t have any animosity and hatred in my heart for him,″ Costin said. ``Even if he walks out of here today, he’ll live with it the rest of his life.″

Prosecutors say Michael Costin died after a savage beating, in which the force of repeated blows to the head and neck severed an artery and caused brain damage. Junta says he landed only ``three off-balance″ punches in an effort to defend himself.

Gus Costin said he has watched the trial closely and noticed the first time Junta had tears in his eyes was when his 12-year-old son, Quinlan, took the stand in his father’s defense.

``It’s that boy who’s hurt here, not him,″ Costin said. ``Nobody wins here.″

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