Judge orders man to trial in W. Wendover teen's slaying

Aug 3 2011 - 5:46pm

ELKO, Nev. -- A judge on Wednesday ordered a Nevada man to stand trial for the murder of his 16-year-old West Wendover High School classmate.

The Deseret News of Salt Lake City says (http://bit.ly/nEpVJs ) Elko Justice Court Judge Al Kacin issued the ruling after a two-day preliminary hearing for Kody Patten.

Patten, 18, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and murder charges in the March beating death of 16-year-old Micaela (Mick-KAY'-la) "Mickey" Costanzo. She was last seen at the high school after track practice.

Prosecutors say Patten drove Costanzo from the school to the desert outside West Wendover where she was killed.

Last month, Patten's 19-year-old girlfriend and co-defendant, Toni Fratto, was also ordered to stand trial for the murder.

The two defendants are being tried separately, although no trial dates have been set.

Prosecutors filed amended charges against both Patten and Fratto on Tuesday. The pair now each face six felonies, including 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.

The new documents allege that Costanzo was "bound or otherwise confined" when Patten drove her into the desert.

Jurors will have a pair of taped confessions -- and two very different accounts -- to consider when weighing the evidence in Patten and Fratto's cases. Portions of the tapes have been played during the preliminary hearings.

In an emotional interview with police on the night he was arrested, Patten confesses to pushing Costanzo twice and hitting her over the head with a shovel after she went into a seizure. He does not mention Fratto being present during the killing, nor says a knife was used to cut Costanzo's throat.

By comparison, in her taped confession, Fratto claims she hit Costanzo with a shovel and that both she and Patten cut the girl's throat.

In court on Wednesday, Patten's father, Kip Patten, testified that on the night of the arrest, his son told him that he had not killed his classmate.

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

After Wednesday's hearing, defense attorney John Ohlson said he believes Fratto's jealousy of Costanzo led to the crime. He said Patten was not the force or the "freight train" behind the killing.

Ohlson said there has been no concrete evidence presented of when the crime actually happened. A videotape of Patten and Micaela leaving West Wendover High School four minutes apart does not constitute a kidnapping, he said.



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