LKO, Nev. (AP) — A teen who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2011 killing of a West Wendover High School classmate — a girl his mother described as his best friend — has been ordered to spend life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Judge Dan Papez handed down the sentence for Kody Cree Patten during an emotional hearing Friday in Elko. The Elko Daily Free Press reports the judge added an additional 20 years to the sentence for use of a deadly weapon, and ordered the 19-year-old to pay $5,000 restitution.
“Your blood runs cold, Mr. Patten,” Papez said at the hearing, according to KSL.
Patten and Toni Fratto, his girlfriend at the time, were accused in the death of 16-year-old Micaela “Mickey” Costanzo, who was taken to a remote area near the Utah-Nevada border after track practice at the school on March 3, 2011.
Authorities said she was struck in the head with a shovel and her throat was slit before she was buried in a shallow grave.
Patten and Fratto were also accused of burning some of the girl’s personal items in another location.
On Friday, Costanzo’s father angrily asked Patten to explain the crime, telling the boy he “had no right to do that.”
“There’s no reason, there’s no why or justification for it,” Patten said. “I wish I could ask for forgiveness, but I feel I don’t deserve it. … Sorry is not enough.”
Fratto hadn’t been a suspect until she offered a confession to Patten’s defense attorney. In the recording, she told lawyers that Micaela wanted to date Patten, but he didn’t want anything to do with her.
Fratto pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a deadly weapon and was sentenced in April to up to life in prison. She will be eligible for parole after serving 18 years.
Patten had previously pleaded not guilty and was set to go to trial in July, but he changed that plea in May in a bargain that took the death penalty off the table. As part of her plea agreement, Fratto had agreed to testify against him.
Fratto’s mother, Cassie Fratto, has described her daughter as a girl with a bright future, and an active volunteer in her small community who became a victim in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship with Patten.
“Toni’s not a monster,” Cassie Fratto said in a recent interview, pointing out that her daughter came forward to accept responsibility for her role. “She got wrapped up with the wrong person.”
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