Toni Fratto was seventeen when she helped murder a romantic rival. According to court documents Toni Fratto was dating Kody Patten and was jealous of the relationship he had with the victim Micaela Costanzo and demanded her boyfriend help get rid of the sixteen year old. Micaela Costanza was brought to a remote location where she was hit over the head, straddled by Fratto while Kody Patten slit her throat. The sixteen year old was buried in a shallow grave. This teen killer would end up pleading guilty to her role in the murder and was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility after eighteen years. Kody Patten was sentenced to life without parole
Toni Fratto 2021 Information
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Toni Fratto was sentenced to spend life in prison plus an additional 20 years for her involvement in the murder of West Wendover teen Micaela Costanzo.
Before being sentenced, Fratto, 19, of West Wendover turned to the mother and family of the victim and offered an apology in Elko District Court Monday morning.
“I would like to apologize to Micaela’s family and friends and those that loved her dearly,” Fratto said while she made sobbing sounds but shed no tears. “I’m sorry for what I did to Micaela, and I’m sorry for what I did not do, and that was protect her. I know saying I’m sorry does not do justice and it does not change what has happened. But I truly am sorry.”
Fratto and co-defendant Kody Patten, 19, of West Wendover were charged with Costanzo’s murder, which occurred March 3, 2011. District Attorney Mark Torvinen sought the death penalty for both defendants after they pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On Jan. 26, Fratto changed her plea. In exchange for a guilty plea to second-degree murder, Fratto agreed to testify as a state witness, if called, during Patten’s trial, which is scheduled July 31 in Elko District Court.
Before Senior Judge Dan Papez sentenced Fratto, Torvinen called to the stand family members of the victim who testified to the impact the murder had on their lives, and gave Papez a recommendation for sentencing.
Micaela’s mom, Celia Costanzo; father, Theodore Costanzo; and sister, Kristina Lininger, each asked Papez to consider giving Fratto the maximum sentence allowed.
Celia Costanzo exemplified her daughter’s innocence in court by describing the type of person Micaela was in high school and around the house.
Micaela was involved with many extracurricular school activities including playing basketball, running track, participating in a People to People leadership program, and editing the school newspaper. Micaela wanted to be an author, her mother said. She was an avid writer of short stories and poetry.
In the home, Micaela was close with her five siblings and had a nurturing relationship with her nieces and nephews.
After the murder, the Costanzo family became inward, and struggled to cope with basic functions of life, Celia Costanzo said. One daughter dropped out of college.
A grieving Celia Costanzo spoke with difficulty, nearly hyperventilating between words.
“It basically destroyed me. I don’t sleep. I have nightmares,” Celia Costanzo said. “I haven’t been able to go to work and work a full shift.”
Celia Costanzo said she has had difficulty when her grandchildren asked her to read books to them that Micaela used to read.
“My kids were everything. I lived to try to give them the best that I could,” Celia Costanzo said. “We were very, very close. All of us did everything together. With Micaela being gone, there’s a part of me that has been ripped away.”
“And not a day, a moment, a second (goes by) that I don’t think about her and what we would be doing.”
Micaela’s father, Theodore Costanzo, testified to the confusion and pain he has suffered.
“I don’t know where to start,” he said on the stand. “I still think that I’m dreaming. I think this can’t be happening here. Everyday.”
Lininger said the murder has made her fearful for herself and her children and stepchildren.
“It’s had a tremendous impact … I’ve always been a protective parent — now I’m overly protective,” Lininger said. She said she constantly worries even when her children are with friends, and she feels scared in West Wendover where before she didn’t.
“I beg that you give (Fratto) the same thing that she gave my sister. Show her (no mercy). She doesn’t deserve a chance,” Lininger said to Papez. “I hope you give her the maximum that you possibly can. That’s what she took away from all of us. I never get the chance to tell my sister that I love her or give her a hug. (Fratto) gets to call her parents whenever she wants.”
Defense attorney John Springgate called Fratto’s mother, Cassie Fratto, to testify on behalf of her daughter before sentencing.
Cassie Fratto testified to Toni Fratto’s character, particularly before she became romantically involved with Patten.
“Toni is very courageous, kind, compassionate, (and) very respectful. She would be your best friend. She would do anything for you. She loves life,” Cassie Fratto said tearfully.
Fratto and Patten began dating during their sophomore year of high school. Sometime during the relationship, Patten got kicked out of his house and the Frattos allowed him to move into their home.
Cassie Fratto testified to seeing a school surveillance tape of Patten being physically abusive to Fratto by pushing her against a wall and choking her.
“Knowing what you know about that attack on her, why would you open your home to that person?” Springgate asked.
“Toni was very much in love with Kody,” Cassie Fratto said. “We were afraid that if we did not (open our home) that he would take Toni away from us and our family.”
According to Cassie Fratto, since Toni Fratto’s incarceration and separation from Patten, she has noticed a change in her daughter’s demeanor. She also said she hoped time served would help her daughter rehabilitate.
“She was losing herself … What I see now is, we have our Toni back. She’s come to the realization of the abuse that she was put through by being in a relationship with (Patten),” Cassie Fratto said.
“She is realizing the importance of being new and true to yourself. She wants to help others that suffered through abuse, through the pain and anguish of someone taking your life away from you,” Cassie Fratto said.
In his closing argument, Torvinen asked Papez to consider the brutality of the murder when making his sentence.
“It’s as horrific a murder as I suspect you will ever see. That word is inadequate to describe the circumstances of this event. Moreover, it’s as innocent a victim as anyone might envision,” Torvinen said.
“Ms. Fratto participated in a sequence of events which has inflicted an agony on Micaela’s family and friends which probably surpasses understanding,” said Torvinen. “They will suffer, as you’ve seen here, each and every day of their lives. The state has asked that you impose the maximum sentence available to you under the law.”
“I would submit that the question here is: Is she a sheep or is she a wolf?” said Springgate. “She is in fact a documented victim of both physical and emotional abuse.”
Springgate argued Fratto was emotionally and cognitively immature, that she is of low-average intelligence, and that her personality is one susceptible to peer pressure.
Papez addressed the brutality of the case mixed with the confusion of an unanswered question: Why did Fratto help murder Costanzo? Which neither Springgate could answer after the sentencing nor Torvinen inside the courtroom.
“Why such a senseless murder of a precious life?” he asked.
“It is even more puzzling when I look at your record,” Papez said. Letters Papez received from Fratto’s friends and family described her as kind, responsible and supportive.
“The attack was brutal, it was vicious, it was violent. All shockingly so,” he said.
Papez gave Fratto the maximum sentence of life and a consecutive sentence of 20 years, and a restitution fine of $3,909. She will be parole eligible after 18 years in prison.