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Toni Collette FRATTO





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 3, 2011
Date of arrest: May 5, 2011
Date of birth: 1992
Victim profile: Micaela "Mickey" Constanzo, 16
Method of murder: Slashing her throat
Location: West Wendover, Elko County, Nevada, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 18 years on April 16, 2012
photo gallery

West Wendover teen sentenced to up to life for killing

By Aaron Falk - The Salt Lake Tribune

April 17, 2012

Elko, Nev. - Nightmares interrupt Celia Costanzo's sleep.

The West Wendover woman hasn't worked a full week in nearly a year. She cannot bring herself to go the restaurants where she once met her daughter for lunch. She can seldom cooks at home because she was teaching Mickey to cook when the 16-year-old was killed.

"There's a part of me that's just been ripped away and I'm not whole," Celia Costanzo said Monday, as she asked for the maximum sentence for one of the two teens officials say murdered Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo.

"There's not a day, not a moment, not a second that I don't think about her," said her mother.

A few feet away in court, 19-year-old Toni Fratto sat with her attorneys, listening with her head down. Earlier, Fratto's parents watched as the petite 19-year-old dragged her ankle shackles across the hardwood floors in Elko District Court.

It's been just over a year since prosecutors say Fratto and her boyfriend, 19-year-old Kody Cree Patten, took Micaela Costanzo into the desert outside West Wendover and killed her with a camping shovel.

Fratto was not a suspect until she came forward to Patten's attorneys and offered a confession. Earlier this year, Fratto took a plea deal that removed the possibility of a death penalty in exchange for her testimony against Patten.

She said she sat on Costanzo's legs as Patten slashed her throat.

In a tearful hearing Monday, Judge Dan Papez sentenced Fratto to up to life in prison, with parole possible after 18 years.

Elko County District Attorney Mark Torvinen called the slaying as "horrific a murder as I suspect you will ever see," made only worse because Costanzo was as "innocent a victim as you could imagine."

Costanzo was a good student, a basketball player and a track star. She was the editor of her school's newspaper and she dreamed of being an author. She would have been graduating in a few weeks, her mother said.

Papez's description of Costanzo's wounds brought many to tears, including the parents of Kody Patten, whose son is scheduled to stand trial in July.

"She suffered during the attack," the judge said. "It took a long time for her to die. Horrible suffering."

Even after a 3 1/2-hour meeting between Fratto and prosecutors, questions in the case remain unanswered.

"While there are many facts ... explaining what happened, I don't have any information about why this happened," Papez said. "That's the big question that remains."

"Nobody has an answer for that," defense attorney John Springgate said after the hearing.

In court, Springgate offered some explanation for Fratto's role: She was not a "black widow," but rather a "sheep." Psychological testing has shown Fratto has the mental and emotional maturity of a 15-year-old, Springgate said, and she was being controlled by "a boyfriend who was jealous and possessive and isolating."

A month before the slaying, security cameras at West Wendover High School — where Costanzo, Fratto and Patten all had attended — caught Patten pushing Fratto against a wall, lifting her legs off the ground as he choked her, Springgate said. It was not the first nor last time Patten abused Fratto, he said.

Fratto offered an apology to the Costanzos.

"I know what I did was wrong and therefore I am taking responsibility for my actions," she said through tears. "I'm sorry for what I did and I'm sorry for what I did not do — and that is protect [Micaela]."

Fratto has said she came from a family that offered her "unconditional love," and letters to the judge described Fratto as a kind and gentle girl, a good student and a good friend.

That's what makes her involvement all the more puzzling, Papez said.

On the witness stand, Cassie Fratto said her daughter had started to change in the year before the slaying. The Frattos allowed Patten to move into their home for about six weeks before Costanzo's death because they feared their daughter would leave if they did not.

"We thought Kody was really trying to put his life in order," Claude Fratto, the girl's father, said in an email to The Tribune. "He has always had a lot of problems. ... The side of Kody which we knew is completely different from the Kody we know now."

Every Sunday, after church, Fratto's parents visit her in the Elko County jail. They say she has changed again in the last year.

"We have our Toni back," Cassie Fratto said in court.

Cassie Fratto said she hopes her daughter will one day be able to have a productive life. The teen has a dream of helping others, she said. "She wants to help others who have suffered through abuse, or the pain and anguish of having someone take your life away from you."


'This is a violent killing as I have ever seen'

Judge sentences Mormon girl, 19, to life in prison for beating girl, 16, to death with shovel

April 17, 2012

A Mormon teenager has been sentenced to life behind bars for helping her boyfriend beat his ex-girlfriend to death with a shovel in a crime the judge branded 'as violent as I've ever seen'.

Toni Fratto, who will be eligible for parole in 10 years, avoided a death sentence by entering a plea deal in January and agreeing to testify against her former boyfriend, Kody Cree Patten, 19.

She admitted they had kidnapped 16-year-old Micaela Costanzo after school in March 2011. They took her to the desert, killed her and buried her in a shallow grave near West Wendover, Nevada.

Fratto, 19, admitted she had hit the girl, a promising student known as 'Mickey', in the back of the head with a shovel and sat on her legs while Patten slashed her throat, the Deseret News reported.

Judge Daniel Papez gave Fratto the maximum penalty the law allows. She has been sentenced to life behind bars and must serve at least 18 years with the possibility of parole in 10.

'This is as violent [a killing] as I've seen in 20 years on the bench,' Papez said. 'The attack on Micaela was brutal, it was vicious, it was violent - all shockingly so.'

Papez described the victim as 'innocent a victim as you could imagine'. Costanzo was a top student and sports star at the school, as well as the editor of the student newspaper.

Prosecutors claimed in the trial last July that the couple, who were planning to get married, murdered Costanzo because she had been texting Patten asking to get back together with him.

Judge Papez told the court it took a long time for her to die in the brutal killing.

Fratto, who wept in court as the judge handed down the punishment, had not been a suspect until she came forward to her boyfriend's lawyers and confessed to her part in the crime.

Her defence attorney John Springgate pointed out that no forensic evidence linked her to the scene so it was her confession that led to her arrest.

He painted a picture of the female killer as a 'sheep' who was not fully in control of her actions, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Tests proved Fratto had the mental and emotional maturity of a 15-year-old and was under the influence of Patten, who was 'jealous and possessive and isolating', Springgate said.

Security cameras at their school had shown footage of Patten choking Fratto; Springgate said it was not an isolated incident. He added that it was Patten who had collected the materials for the killing.

Acknowledging that Fratto had been a well-liked student with no criminal history, the judge agreed it was 'puzzling that a person like you could participate in such a terrible crime'.

Her mother Cassie testified that her daughter had began to change ahead of the murder. Patten had stayed with them for six weeks before the crime as they feared their daughter would leave otherwise.

Now, away from the control of her boyfriend, Fratto is the person they knew before he came into their lives, Cassie said.

Weeping ahead of her sentence, Toni Patten said in court on Monday: 'I would like to apologise for my actions and the tragedy that has happened. I know what I did was wrong.

'I'm sorry for what I did to Micaela and for what I did not do, protect her. It does not change what happened. But I do mean I'm sorry.'

But there was little forgiveness from the family of the victim. Costanzo's mother Celia pleaded for the maximum sentence for Fratto.

'There’s a part of me that’s just been ripped away and I’m not whole. There’s not a day, not a moment, not a second that I don’t think about her,' she said.

The victim's father, Theodore, had also asked for the maximum penalty, saying he still felt he was 'dreaming' about the murder. 'I don't want nothing good for her, ever,' he said of the killer.

As she was handed down the maximum sentence, some audience members cheered, as Fratto put her head in her hands and sobbed.

Kody Patten is due to stand trial in July. Fratto may be called to testify at his trial.


Judge orders life sentence for murder 'as violent as I've seen'

Hurting families still puzzled over why Wendover teen was killed

By Pat Reavy -

April 16, 2012

ELKO, Nev. — Facing the family of the West Wendover High School classmate she admitted to help murdering, Toni Fratto delivered a tearful apology.

"I would like to apologize for my actions and the tragedy that has happened. I know what I did was wrong," she said Monday before she was sentenced. "I'm sorry for what I did to Micaela and for what I did not do, protect her. It does not change what happened. But I do mean I'm sorry."

Fratto avoided a possible death sentence by entering a plea deal in January, pleading guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. She admitted that she and 19-year-old Kody Cree Patten, whom she was reportedly planning to marry, kidnapped and killed 16-year-old Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo after school, taking her to a remote area near the Utah-Nevada border, killing her and then burying her in a shallow grave.

Fratto admitted she hit Micaela in the back of the head with a shovel and sat on the teen's legs while Patten slashed her throat on March 3, 2011.

Monday, Elko District Judge Daniel Papez gave Fratto the maximum penalty the law allows, sentencing her to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Fratto also received a 20-year weapons enhancement penalty which will begin after her life sentence is over.

"This is as violent (a murder) as I've seen in 20 years on the bench," Papez said. "The attack on Micaela was brutal, it was vicious, it was violent — all shockingly so."

Referring to the medical examiner's report, Papez said the girl's death was slow and torturous.

Fratto will serve a minimum of 18 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 10 years. Once she is paroled on her murder conviction, she will serve a minimum of eight years on her enhancement penalty.

But while her family and attorneys say Fratto has taken responsibility for her actions, the question of why Micaela was killed still remained unanswered Monday.

"That's the biggest question in all of this. She just (said to) me a few days ago, 'Why? Why, why, why did this happen? I don't understand,'" Cassie Fratto, Toni's mother, said after the sentencing.

Patten is scheduled to go on trial July 31 on a charge of first-degree murder. Prosecutor Mark Torvinen filed notice that he intends to seek the death penalty if Patten is convicted.

Monday, Cassie Fratto said there are elements of the case that have not yet been made public. "There's things that lead up to that night that no one is aware of yet," she said.

When Patten picked up Fratto the night of Micaela's murder, he had already been driving around with Micaela in his truck for about 90 minutes. Cassie Fratto said when Patten picked up her daughter, she had no idea what was going to happen. Toni Fratto actually thought her own life was in danger, her mother said.

"She did not believe that she would ever see her family again. She knew her life was in danger," Cassie Fratto said. "She knew Kody very well. We all knew Kody very well. She knew Kody, and she knew the frame of mind he was in that night. And she knew as soon as she got in the car, she told me, 'Mom, I knew I wasn't coming home.'"

When asked to explain why his client went along with the killing and didn't try to help Micaela, defense attorney John Springgate didn't have an answer.

"We're pretty clear that adolescents do unbelievably stupid things. And her psychological profile shows that she is, while she's 19 years old now, mentally and emotionally she is much younger. And typically adolescents do not think things out," he said.

"I'm not going to try Mr. Patten's case. But according to the statements and according to everything we know, it was Mr. Patten who was getting all the materials together, it was Mr. Patten who said she had to die. So you can draw your own conclusion who was the organizer. But the girl I was representing did not seem like an organizer to me."

Even the judge seemed confused by Fratto's actions, noting that she had no prior criminal history at all, even as a juvenile, and was an active member in her LDS ward and was well-liked in school.

"That's what makes this even more puzzling, that a person like you could participate in such a terrible crime," he said. "Micaela's loss to her family, to her school, to the community of Wendover will be felt forever. I hope that someday, Ms. Fratto, that you'll be able to get your life back in order. You have to live with this forever."

Fratto was sentenced before a full courtroom with members of both families as well as Patten's father, who sat in the back.

Springgate noted to the judge before sentencing that Fratto scored below average in her pre-sentence psychological evaluation. He also noted that she was mentally and physically abused by Patten. Springgate talked about an incident in January 2011, prior to Micaela's murder, in which a security camera at West Wendover High School recorded Patten slamming Fratto against a locker and strangling her.

Cassie Fratto said since her daughter has been incarcerated for the past year and away from Patten, she has returned to being the person she used to be.

"The hope that I have for Toni is for her to be able to," she told the judge, pausing, "to move on with her life, her dream, and to be able to fulfill those dreams in a way she has recently talked to me about. ... This incident has made her stronger in her belief in helping others."

Springgate argued that Fratto would never have been arrested if she had not come forward and confessed because she felt guilty. There was no forensic evidence linking Fratto to the crime.

But as Springgate tried to convince Papez that his client was a person who could be rehabilitated and was not a monster, Micaela's mother and members of her family in the audience shook their heads in disagreement.

Micaela's mother, father and one of her sisters each asked the judge to deliver the maximum penalty. Cecilia Costanzo was in tears, and at times shaking, as she recounted how her life has been turned upside down.

"It's basically destroyed me," Costanzo told the judge.

She said she can't even cook, go to the grocery store or even read books with her grandchildren because those are events that remind her of what she used to do with her daughter.

"There's not a day, a moment, a second that I don't think about her and what we would be doing. I can't even go out and have a lunch because that was kind of our thing on Mondays and Tuesdays," she said while wiping away tears. "With Micaela being gone, there's a part of me that has just been ripped away."

Micaela would have graduated from high school in a few weeks. Not only was she a star athlete on the track team, she was also editor of the school newspaper and had aspirations of becoming a writer.

"I don't have that chance to see Micaela grow to see her become the author, the mom. ... I can't make this right for Micaela, only the court can," she said.

Costanzo said Micaela's death also deeply affects her sisters.

"My daughter is not the same girl at all. She can't live in Wendover. She quit college. She's struggling just trying to go on day by day. She's pulled herself away from everyone because she and Mickey were so close, she just can't be ...," an emotional Costanzo said. "She has a hard time being around anything that reminds her of Micaela and what they always did together."

Christina Lininger, another older sister of Micaela, echoed those feelings, saying she no longer feels safe in her own community.

"Now I'm just scared all the time," she said. "I beg you to give her the same thing she gave my sister. She didn't give her a chance, she could have helped her."

Lininger wiped back tears as she mentioned how Fratto can call her parents while in jail, but she can never again call Micaela to tell her she loves her.

Micaela's father, Theodore Anthony Costanzo Jr., told the judge he thinks of his daughter every morning.

"I wouldn't know where to start, because I still think I'm dreaming. I think this can't be happening here," he said, when asked how his daughter's death has impacted him.

He too asked Papez to deliver the maximum sentence.

"I don't want nothing good for her, ever. That's what I say, that's what I want," he said.

Torvinen reminded the judge that despite the mitigating evidence presented, "The central reality of this murder is that the defendant before you acknowledged voluntarily participating in it. It's as horrific a murder as I suspect you will ever see as a judge."

The prosecutor also called Micaela "as innocent a victim as anyone might envision."

As Papez recounted how brutal Micaela's killing was, her family sitting in the audience broke down in tears again. He then delivered the maximum sentence, prompting an audible cheer of "yes!" from at least one member of the audience.

After the judge and members of Micaela's family left the courtroom, Fratto bowed her head down to the table in front of her, buried her face in her hands and cried. She was then allowed a tearful brief conversation with her father before being led away with her hands handcuffed and feet shackled.

As part of the plea agreement, Fratto may be called to testify during Patten's trial.


Mormon girl Toni Fratto 'helped teenage lover beat his ex-girlfriend to death with shovel'

By Lena Sullivan -

July 16, 2011

A Mormon teenager will stand trial for allegedly helping her lover to kill his 16-year-old ex-girlfriend, a judge has ruled.

Toni Fratto, 19, and Kody Patten, 18, are accused of hitting Micaela Costanzo over the head with a shovel, cutting her throat and then burying her body in a shallow grave just outside West Wendover, Nevada.

Prosecutors claim the couple, who were planning to get married, murdered Micaela because she had been texting Patten asking to get back together with him.

After the killing the pair drove to a nearby swimming pool to 'clean up' - and then went to McDonald's, the court heard.

Patten was charged just days after the murder in March, but Fratto was arrested more than a month later, after she allegedly confessed to Patten's father and his lawyer.

On Thursday a judge ruled she, too, will now stand trial alongside her boyfriend on murder and kidnapping charges.

In the taped confession, which Fratto's lawyer has dismissed as 'wholly rubbish', she told lawyers the couple had arranged to speak to Micaela after she sent Patten text messages asking to get back together.

The pair had dated a couple of years previously, but had broken up before Patten and Fratto began their relationship.

In January he was baptised as a Mormon so they couple could get married at the Temple.

Fratto told lawyers Patten picked her and Micaela up and then drove out of town because Micaela, described as a popular student, 'didn't want anyone to see us or anything.'

As they drove, Micaela became more and more agitated, according to Fratto.

When they stopped, Micaela and Patten got out of the car to talk. The conversation soon descended into a shouting match, and the pair began shoving each other, Fratto claims.

She told lawyers: 'I looked away, and then heard a loud thud on the car.'

Fratto got out and saw the 16-year-old lying on the ground. She said: 'Everything from there on out was kind of a blur to me. It went downhill from there.'

According to Fratto, they started 'freaking out' and they didn't know what to do.

So she allegedly hit Micaela in the back with a shovel, and then together she and Patten cut the girl's throat, she said.

Then they buried her body in a shallow grave and drove away.

Fratto said they were both in shock, and asked themselves repeatedly: 'What did we just do? What do we do? We didn't know what we had just done.'

According to Patten's father, Kip, Fratto told him the pair went to a local swimming pool to 'clean up' - and then went to McDonald's. 

But Fratto's defence lawyer claims that the recording wasn't credible, and parts of it were completely made-up.

He claims some details of the confession did not tally with how Micaela was killed, and surveillance cameras at the school only show Patten, not Fratto.

He also said Patten's father drove Fratto to his lawyer's office to make her confession when her parents were out of town, as he knew they didn't want her to speak to an attorney without them being present.

Under cross-examination, Kip Patten testified: 'She said she wanted to come forward with it. She didn't want Kody to pay for something they both participated in.'

There is no forensic evidence linking Fratto to the murder, the court heard,

A two-day preliminary hearing for Patten is due to start on August 2.


Police, Defense Search For Evidence For And Against Toni Fratto’s Bombshell Confession

By Howard Copelan

May 20, 2011

The bombshell confession of West Wendover teen Toni Fratto that she was involved in the murder of Micaela Costanzo has prompted a flurry of activity from both the defense and the prosecution looking for evidence either corroborating her confession or exonerating the girl.

Forensic specialist from the Washoe Crime Lab were in Wendover this week collecting samples from Fratto’s home, car and clothes in an effort to find some trace evidence that would confirm at least her presence during the time of the killing. Investigators also reportedly combed through the murder scene as well as the gravel pit used where some of Mickey Costanzo’s possessions were found partially burnt.

It is unknown as of press time whether these real life CSI’s have found a smoking gun such as Costanzo’s blood on Fratto’s clothes.

But as one side searches of for evidence that would confirm Fratto’s confession, her defense team is looking for any evidence that would generate doubt as to the confession’s accuracy.

In a legal maneuver worthy of silver screen Reno Attorney John Ohlson submitted an audio tape of Toni Fratto admitting to being one of Micaela Costanzo’s killers during a pretrial hearing for his client Kody Patten on May 3rd in Elko district court. Until that moment Patten was the only suspect in the murder that shook Wendover to its very core.

According to the police report of the tape Fratto states that she and Patten drove Costanzo five miles west of Wendover to an NDOT gravel pit. There the couple beat unconscious and then Fratto cut the young girl’s throat with a knife. The two then buried her in a shallow grave and then drove about ten miles past Wendover Utah to burn the knife and Costanzo’s possessions at another gravel pit about 3 miles northeast of Wendover, Utah.

According to the police report, if Fratto was as she claims a participant, the entire crime and the cleanup had to have taken place between the hours of 5 pm and 6 pm March 3rd, at the very most an hour.

While the girl’s whereabouts is not known from 5 pm, she and her mother were recorded as being in attendance at a West Wendover Recreation District meeting at 6 pm and witnesses report they arrived a few minutes before the meeting was gaveled to begin.

“I think they were there a little before the meeting began,” said board chairman Kerry Robinson.

A run through conducted Wednesday by the High Desert Advocate suggested that 55 minutes was enough time but just barely. Following Fratto’s version of events in the police report the Advocate timed the drive involved. The drive from the West Wendover High School to the Nevada gravel pit, the murder scene took approximately 10 minutes. The drive back through Wendover to the Utah gravel pit took approximately 15 minutes and the drive back from the Utah gravel pit to the Fratto house another 15 minutes. With the drive times subtracted the couple if Fratto’s account is true had about 20 minutes to commit the murder, destroy the evidence across town and then return home to cleanup before Toni Fratto was seen again with her parents.

There also could be video evidence that would cut those 20 minutes even further. According to confidential sources Toni Fratto was picking up her mother from work at the Peppermill Casino well before 6 pm and might have been recorded by the company’s security camera’s. She may also have been recorded on the city of West Wendover security camera when she reportedly left off her father for a union meeting also before 6 pm at City Hall.

Depending on the whether those videos were saved and the time stamps on them, they could render at least Toni Fratto’s time line at the very least improbable. If there is credible evidence that the girl was seen either alone or with her parents in much earlier it would make her time line impossible.

Not discounting the possibility the girl lied about the chain of events in the murder while she was confessing to the killing there may be other chinks in her story.

According to confidential sources on the Friday after the murder Fratto received several calls from Patten directing her to tell police that he was with her during the time of the killing.

According to sources at no time during any of Patten’s interrogation sessions with police did he implicate his lover Fratto. And there was no physical evidence, at least none released to the public, linking her to the crime.

Starting with her cool demeanor supposedly less than an hour after brutally cutting Mickey Costanzo’s throat, she gave away nothing more than being the distraught girlfriend of a confessed murderer. And she walked out of her one and only police interview while Mickey Costanzo was only missing with an apology from the police for troubling her. For six weeks the girl went about her daily routine and never raise any suspicions with police or sheriff’s detectives.

In fact her entry into the law offices of Patten’s attorney Jeffrey Kump, April 22nd in Elko came as complete surprise both to the defense and later to the prosecution. Indeed as one officer put it, if she had just kept her mouth shut she never would have seen the inside of the Elko County Jail let alone face the prospect of spending the rest of her life in prison.

From the minute the news broke the overwhelming feeling from those who knew her was that far from a criminal mastermind with ice water for blood. Rather  many in town believe Toni Fratto was confessing to a crime she didn’t and some say could not have committed at the behest of her jailed lover.

Patten certainly had the opportunity to make such a request. Fratto visited him as often as twice a week making the four hour round trip to Elko on Wednesdays and Sunday ever since Patten was arrested n May 7th.

She also talked to him at least once a day thanks to a collect calling plan purchased by her father. The frequent and continued contact the girl had with Patten also suggest and alternative reason why Fratto knew details of the murder not released to the public. Patten may have simply told her.

Far from the black widow who directed Patten to kill a romantic or social rival, friends and acquaintances of both Fratto and Patten describe her as a mouse of a girl who was “barely there”.

Indeed some friends relate the Patten held the whole Fratto family in thrall and what official records exist tend to support the allegation.

He moved into the home after his own parents threw him out and bragged to classmates how he verbally and emotionally abused his benefactors.

So complete was his domination of the family, friends relate, that even when Patten was caught on school grounds strangling Toni Fratto just months before the murder, Claude and Cassie Fratto refused to press criminal charges and allowed the very disturbed young man back into their home.

Regardless of whether Fratto’s confession is true it may have already achieved the effect of taking the death penalty off the table at least in regards to Kody Patten on the other hand it may very well put Fratto on death row herself.


Toni Fratto, second suspect in Nev. murder of Micaela Costanzo, arrested

By Camille Mann -

May 6, 2011

(CBS/KUTV/AP) WEST WENDOVER, Nev. - Police have arrested teenage girl Toni Fratto,  the second suspect in the shovel slaying and shallow burial of 16-year-old Micaela Costanzo just west of the Nevada-Utah state line March 3.

Fratto,19, is the fiancée of Kody Patten, who was arrested in early March and who police say confessed to striking Micaela with a shovel. Fratto was named as the second suspect in the murder after a taped phone conversation surfaced, according to CBS affiliate KUTV.

In court on Tuesday, Patten's attorneys presented an audio recording of Fratto. The recording was made April 22,  when Fratto was on the phone with Patten and said she used a deadly weapon and was involved in the disposal as well as the destruction of Micaela's personal property and other potential evidence, according to police, the station reports.

Police say Fratto also provided details of the crime in the recording that are not public knowledge and would only be known by someone involved.

Fratto was arrested Wednesday night and faces the same murder charges as her boyfriend, Patten.


Kody Cree Patten, 19, gets life without parole for murdering classmate in Wendover

By Pat Reavy - Deseret

August 24, 2012

ELKO, Nev. — "Your blood runs cold, Mr. Patten. There shall be no possibility of parole."

Those words from Elko District Judge Daniel Papez Friday prompted cheers from the family of murdered West Wendover High School student Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo.

The final chapter in the 2011 brutal killing of 16-year-old Micaela was written Friday in an Elko courtroom when 19-year-old Kody Cree Patten was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Papez said he considered Patten's young age when handing down his sentence. But what outweighed that concern was the crime itself. Papez called it "the worst kind of murder."

"Micaelea's murder was carried out with gruesome, vicious, merciless violence," Papez said, while also noting that it was premeditated.

Patten, clean-shaven and wearing a suit, stood with his hands behind his back and showed little to no emotion as the sentence was issued.

Earlier in the hearing, Micaela's father pointed at Patten from the witness stand and angrily demanded answers.

"You had no right, kid. You had no right to do that. I got a question for you though: Why don't you tell me why. Why'd you harm her?" Theodore Anthony Costanzo Jr. asked.

The prosecutor had to quiet Costanzo, telling him to stick to answering questions.

When asked what sentence he believed should be imposed, the father replied: "I want him to walk into that penitentiary, and when he leaves it, he'll be in a box."

When it was Patten's turn to address the court, he took several long pauses, appearing to collect his thoughts — sometimes reaching for a tissue — and told the court he continues to go over in his head what happened that day.

But he couldn't answer why he killed the girl.

"I've sat and tried to go over it and over it. There's no reason, there's no why, no justification for it. Sorry's not enough. I apologize for everything. I'm sorry," he said.

"I can't describe what happened, can't even begin to describe it," he said. "Sorry isn't enough. … I wish I could ask for forgiveness but I don't feel I deserve it."

During his rambling speech, Patten said Micaela "was always good to me" and "anything a friend could ask for."

"The more I stand here, the more I see how horrible this is," he said. "Her family didn't deserve it. Mickey didn't deserve it."

Patten then recited part of a poem that Micaela had written, talking about a glimmer of beauty beneath "all the ugly" in the world.

"Micaela was the glimmer of beauty for people," Patten said, which caused her mother, Cecilia Costanzo, to cry even harder.

In May, Patten accepted a plea deal, pleading guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for being spared the death penalty.

The deal came after co-defendant Toni Fratto — Patten's former girlfriend — struck her own plea deal in April and also avoided a possible death penalty, pleading guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder. Fratto, 19, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. She will serve a minimum 18 years in prison before being eligible to be released.

Though both defendants have pleaded guilty, each side still has very differing accounts of what actually happened, each maintaining that the other party was more culpable.

Patten is accused of kidnapping Micaela after school on March 3, 2011. He and Fratto then drove Micaela to a remote area in the desert near the Utah-Nevada border and killed her. Patten allegedly shoved Micaela to the ground, causing her to hit her head on a rock and go into a seizure, followed by Fratto hitting her on the head with a shovel. Fratto's attorneys say their client then sat on Micaela's legs while Patten slashed her throat. Patten, however, has denied being the one who cut Micaela's throat, maintaining it was Fratto.

Patten wrote a letter to the judge as part of the pre-sentence report. In it, Patten wrote he did not intend for Fratto to cut Micaela's throat.

"The evidence does not support your statement," Papez said, accusing Patten of trying to minimize his role in the crime. "I don't believe you. You were the primary perpetrator of the murder.

"Micaela's sweet voice will never be heard again," the judge continued. "Her sweet smile will never be seen again because of you, Mr. Patten. Your acts of planning this murder, carrying out this murder in such a vicious manner and then attempting to cover up this murder, are hardly the acts of an impulsive, irrational teenage mind. You always had the ability to stop the wheels of this murder you put into motion, Mr. Patten."

After killing her, Patten and Fratto buried Micaela in a shallow grave and took some of her possessions to the Utah side of Wendover to burn. Papez said the couple then "callously" washed up and went to Wendover to get a drink.

Micaela's mother and sisters said time has only made things worse since Mickey's death. They said they continue to have nightmares.

"This man should never see the light of day or be given the chance to see the light of day ever again," said Cecilia Costanzo. "He took my daughter's life. He didn't give her a chance to finish high school or to get married or to have children or to go to college. He had no right to take her. So he has no right to have a life or have anything. … He should never be free to do anything ever again."   

"I can't find joy anymore. I think it's so sad. It makes me wonder when anything will be OK anymore," said Micaela's sister, DJ.

Members of Patten's family, including his mother and father, also spoke to the court. Each described Patten as a caring person whom they could never imagine was capable of such a horrific act.

"It's very unlike him. Micaela was our friend, we loved her. She was Kody's best friend," said Donna Patten, Kody's mother.

Patten's family reminded the court that Kody had EMT training and had already been accepted to join the U.S. Marines and was even given a deployment date before the murder.

His attorney, John Ohlson, implored the judge to uphold the principle of "hope, redemption and compassion" and give Patten both a chance to prove and improve himself while in prison.

Outside the courtroom, all parties left without comment. Cecila Costanzo briefly said she was happy that "justice had been served" before walking arm in arm with her family to their cars in the parking lot to drive back to Wendover.



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