2nd Brother Found Guilty in Roomate's Death
2nd man found guilty of killing roommate found dead in their backyard
By Kevin Shea
Updated Aug 15; Posted Aug 14
Christopher Costello, left and Bryan Costello.
A Burlington County jury on Tuesday found Christopher Costello guilty of aggravated manslaughter in the death of his roommate, Justin Dubois, a crime he committed with his brother.
Costello, 29, was acquitted of murder in March, but convicted of desecration of human remains and hindering apprehension in the 2016 killing of Dubois in Lumberton. (At that trial, the jury was hung on aggravated manslaughter.)
In June, Bryan Costello, 26, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for aggravated manslaughter after accepting a plea deal in April with the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.
Bryan Costello admitted that he beat the 23-year-old Dubois to death with a baseball bat and buried him in the backyard of his Spencer Court home with the help of his brother.
Christopher Costello, though, had previously admitted to helping to bury the body, but claimed that Bryan Costello was the one who beat Dubois to death, according to the prosecutor's office.
"This was a challenging trial, with Bryan Costello trying to take sole responsibility for killing Justin DuBois, but (Assistant Prosecutor Louis Casadia) did an excellent job focusing the jury on the physical evidence, the nature of Justin's injuries, and the discrepancies in the brothers' accounts," Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said of Christopher Costello's retrial.
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"We appreciate the attention of the jury members throughout the trial and their careful consideration of the evidence in concluding that Christopher was an equal participant in this brutal homicide," the prosecutor said.
Christopher Costello could get a prison term more than twice as long as his brother's when he's sentenced, the prosecutor's office said.
The investigation began as a missing person's case when a family member reported on Oct. 31, 2016 that Dubois, who was from West Windsor, had been uncharacteristically missing for several days, authorities have said.
Investigators got a search warrant to comb the Costellos' home and noticed a patch of soil in the backyard that appeared to have been recently disturbed. They excavated the site and found Dubois' body. He'd been occasionally staying with the Costello family at the time.
Dubois was a 2012 graduate of Life Center Academy in Florence who dreamed of playing in the NBA, according to his obituary.
Kevin Shea may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.