A Lumberton man has been convicted of aggravated manslaughter for joining his brother in beating an acquaintance to death with a baseball bat and burying him in their backyard.
Christopher Costello, 29, was convicted Tuesday in the bludgeoning death of Justin Dubois, 23, of West Windsor, N.J., in October 2016. The jury's guilty verdict came at his second trial. At his first, a jury acquitted him of murder, deadlocked on the charge of aggravated manslaughter, and found him guilty of hindering apprehension and desecration of human remains.
Four months ago, Costello's brother Bryan, 26, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison. He admitted he beat Dubois with a bat and testified that his brother helped him bury the body behind the home they shared with their father.
But in a statement, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said the evidence showed that Christopher Costello "was an equal participant in this brutal homicide." Coffina also said Costello could face up to 30 years when he is sentenced. The date has not been scheduled.
The case began as a missing persons investigation after the victim's mother told police she had not seen or heard from her son for four days. When investigators executed a search warrant at the Costellos' home, they observed an area where the soil was recently tilled. Dubois had been staying temporarily with the Costellos at the time he went missing.
Neighbors in the quiet cul-de-sac said they had noticed 40 to 50 "cars coming and going" at all hours of the day in recent years and that they suspected drug dealing at the house. They said that they had notified police and that the Costello brothers were being investigated.