• Teen's death ruled ‘homicide' after 25 Investigates questions autopsy delay

    By: Eric Rasmussen

    Updated:

    TEWKSBURY, Mass. - The State Medical Examiner’s Office has now ruled the death of Ethan Costello as a homicide almost a year after the 15 year-old from Tewksbury died following a violent confrontation with another teen at a house party in Lowell.

    In September, 25 Investigates first reported that prosecutors had not filed homicide charges against the suspect in the case because they said they were still waiting on an autopsy report.  The defendant, 18 year-old Joseph Zagarella, has only been charged with assault and battery in Lowell District Court.

    MORE: 25 Investigates: State autopsy backlog delays justice

    On Wednesday, the Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the completion of the autopsy report, listing the cause of death as “blunt force trauma of head” and manner of death as “homicide.”

    Zagarella is scheduled to go on trial for the assault and battery charge on October 11, but legal experts say that could change if prosecutors take the newly-finished autopsy report before a grand jury and seek an indictment on manslaughter or murder charges.

    The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office would not comment on any Grand Jury proceedings, but e-mailed the following statement to 25 Investigates:

    “Our office has received the autopsy report and is the process of reviewing it to make a determination as to whether the charges should be amended in this case.”

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