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Brandon Hinton Sentenced to 35 Years in Murder of Disabled Man, 61

By Benjamin Woodard | February 13, 2014 6:42am
 Brandon Hinton beat and robbed John Costulas, of Rogers Park, on Sept. 2, 2011, outside a Howard Street gas station, prosecutors say.
Hinton Murder Trial
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ROGERS PARK — The brother of John Costulas, a developmentally disabled man who was robbed and murdered in 2011, said Wednesday "it's time to move on" after Brandon Hinton was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the crime.

"We’ve worked right through this and now it is over," said Nick Costulas, 59, who never missed a hearing since his brother's attacker was charged with first-degree murder.

Judge Garritt Howard handed down the sentence Feb. 6 in a Skokie Courtroom, according to court records.

The sentencing comes months after Hinton fired his attorney, Brendan Shiller, at an initial sentencing hearing in September, which delayed the conclusion of the years-long courtroom saga until late last week.

Nick Costulas said he felt the judge should have settled on a harsher sentence, but was content knowing that 28-year-old Hinton would be at least in his 60s before getting out.

"You want to see someone who takes a life never to get freedom again," Costulas said. "But it is what it is. It’s time to move on, just like any other death. There’s nothing that's gonna bring him back."

John Costulas, 61, had been walking to a Clark Street bus stop in the early morning hours of Sept. 2, 2011, when Hinton struck him and robbed him of $10 — his "lunch money," prosecutors said — in the 500 block of West Howard Street.

Costulas, who lived in Rogers Park and worked at Lincoln Park's Anixter Center, a nonprofit organization that provides support to disabled people, died 10 days later from a traumatic brain injury.

Prosecutors argued that after a night of drinking, Hinton had intended to rob Costulas when he swung at the man, who walked with a cane. Under Illinois law, a person is guilty of first-degree murder when a victim dies during a robbery, no matter the intent.

Defense attorneys argued that Hinton had hit Costulas at "random, out of the blue" and that the robbery was an afterthought and a "crime of convenience."

The jury deliberated for an hour and a half before handing down a guilty verdict.