Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TRIALS: No Lesser included

A few weeks ago, I represented Michael Costello in a murder case in the 403rd District Court. The case involved the death of Costello's roommate caused by a crushed larnyx due to blunt force to the throat.

The essence of the defense was that yes, Costello struck the victim, but that the blow was entirely a reaction to the roommate grabbing his shoulder as he was leaving the apartment. What made the defense especially challenging was that Costello did not call 911, the victim lay in the apartment for nearly 24 hours before the police were called, and that Costello gave arguably various versions of the events. The jury perceived him as dangerous given the testimony, in part, of albeit questionable characters, during the course of the guilt and punishment phases.

The jury concluded that Costello was a violent man, prone to abusing the victim and taking the victim's money and medication. However, even some family members of the victim could not recall seeing abusive markings on their son in the weeks leading up to the death. The apartment supervisor didn't recall anything as well. What seemed to sway the jury was testimony from another apartment employee who noticed some markings, and Costello's own admission that on occasion they would have some physical altercations. Additionally, there were some vague memories from people Costello allegedly used to smoke pot with.

Did Michael Costello really intend to cause the death of this victim? I think not. I feel bad for the family of the victim as well as the family of Michael Costello. The collateral damage of this tragedy will never be fully measured. But this case was defended as a manslaughter case, not murder. Unfortunately, the jury didn't see things that way and thought 60 years would give Costello time to think about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a family member of Micheal Costello, I would like to thank you for your help in his defense. It is with regret that I am letting you know that Micheal took his life on June 9, 2012.