Judge denies new trial for man convicted of threatening two employees
LACONIA — A man convicted of a hate crime for threatening two workers at the Wal-Mart in Tilton because he thought they were Jewish will not get a new trial.
The Laconia Citizen reports that Judge James D. O’Neill III has denied the request by Paul Costella, formerly of Belmont, to set aside the jury verdict and grant a new trial.
Costella was convicted by a jury in October 2012 of two counts of criminal threatening and disorderly conduct following a two-day trial. The prosecutor got enhanced sentences under the state's hate crime law which addresses crimes motivated by ethnic or religious hatred.
Costella reportedly asked a worker at a service bay where he was having the oil in his car changed if she was Jewish after she commented on a photo he had of himself with the Nazi flag. The employee said Costella then made comments implying that not enough Jewish people had been killed during World War II and asked whether she’d seen a gun in his car, calling it his “Jew killer.”
Two other employees at the service center told police Costella made similar threatening and racist remarks to them. Costella took the witness stand in his own defense and denied the allegations.
In his appeal, Costella had argued, among other things, that the judge made a mistake by not letting his daughter to testify that he was not motivated by hostility toward Judaism.
But since the daughter had not been present at the incident, the judge determined her testimony would not have been enough to effectively counter the "overwhelming direct evidence presented by the state," the ruling reads.