2 confessions paint different pictures in killing of Wendover student

Kody Patten ordered to stand trial in classmate's death

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 3 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

Kody Cree Patten leaves court in Elko, Nev., Tuesday Aug. 2, 2011, after the day ended with an emotional 45-minute recording of Patten's interview with police on the night he was arrested in connection with the death of fellow West Wendover High School student, 16-year-old Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo.

Matt Powers , Deseret News

ELKO, Nev. — Kody Cree Patten was ordered Wednesday to stand trial in the death of a fellow West Wendover High School classmate.

But based on taped confessions from Patten and his fiancée and co-defendant, Toni Fratto, there are two very different versions of what happened that a jury will have to sort through.

In an emotional interview with police on the night he was arrested, Patten confessed to pushing 16-year-old Micaela Costanzo twice and hitting her over the head with a shovel after she went into a seizure. He never mentioned Fratto being present during the killing and didn't mention the use of a knife to cut Micaela's throat.

Patten also told his father that he didn't actually kill Micaela, Kip Patten testified Wednesday.

Fratto, in her taped confession, said she was the one who hit Micaela over the head with a shovel and said both she and Patten cut the girl's throat.

While the couple did not point fingers at each other during their interviews, their attorneys are now doing just that. Each is claiming the other holds more, if not all, of the culpability for Micaela's death.

Both Patten, 18, and Fratto, 19, are charged with kidnapping Micaela on March 3, driving her to a remote area in the desert outside of Wendover and killing her.

According to amended information filed in Elko District Court Tuesday, both Patten and Fratto now face six charges: kidnapping, murder, conspiracy to commit murder and/or kidnapping, murder committed during the perpetration of a kidnapping with the use of a deadly weapon, destroying evidence and attempted willful destruction of evidence.

Kip Patten testified that on the same night his son gave the tearful confession to police, he also whispered to him when they were alone that he didn't deliver the fatal blows.

"He said he didn't actually kill her," Kip Patten testified.

"I said, 'What?' and he said, "Nevermind,'" Kip Patten said, adding that he didn't fully understand or realize what his son was saying then because he was wrapped up in the emotion of the situation.

The father said he has subsequently asked his son several times why the killing occurred, but his son either shrugged his shoulders or failed to give an explanation. The last time he spoke with Kody, about three weeks ago, his son said, "Dad, I don't know what answers you want me to give you because I don't have anything else."

In the recorded interview, Kody Patten told investigators that Micaela seemed to be interested in getting back together with him but that he wasn't willing to leave Fratto. In Fratto's taped confession, she also said Micaela wanted to date Patten.

But a close friend of Micaela's testified last month during Fratto's preliminary hearing that Micaela barely spoke with Patten and wanted nothing to do with him.

Patten's defense attorney, John Ohlson, said outside the Elko Justice Courthouse Wednesday that he believes it was Fratto's jealousy of Micaela that ultimately led to the crime. He said Patten was not the force or the "freight train" behind the killing, but blamed Fratto.

As for the differing interviews, Ohlson acknowledged some of the testimony between the two defendants coincided, and other parts conflicted.

“This has turned into a really interesting case,” he noted.

After Wednesday's hearing, Fratto's mother, Cassie Fratto, said her daughter is completely innocent. She says her daughter was with her from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. the day of the crime.

"She wasn't there at all. She was with me."

When asked why she would confess to a murder she didn't commit, Cassie Fratto replied: "The truth will come out in court."

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