Video after the jump.
Toni Collette Fratto, 19, copped a plea deal to second-degree murder and testified against her ex-boyfriend, Kody Cree Patten, also 19, in order to escape a death sentence and instead spend at least the next 18 years behind bars (when she’ll be eligible for parole on a life sentence).
This very “active-in-her-ward” Mormon (believe us, her Mormon-osity has been emphasized repeatedly, even by Mormon rags) reportedly (we have to say “reportedly,” because Patten hasn’t been convicted of anything… yet; ho goes on trial July 31, 2012) helped Patten kidnap 16-year-old Micaela “Mickey” Costanzo, a popular, smart student and athlete, and editor of the West Wendover High School newspaper. The two allegedly sick little alleged crims reportedly took Mickey into the Nevada desert, where Fratto beat her classmate with a camp shovel, and then sat on top of her legs to hold her down while Patten allegedly slashed her throat. Then they reportedly buried Mickey in a shallow grave.
Why? Because Mickey, Patten’s ex-girlfriend, was texting Patten in an effort to get back together with him. And Patten and Fratto were planning to get married. To each other.
You’d think a simple “No, I’m not interested” from Patten would have done the trick. But did the star-crossed lovers try that?
It sounds like the judge, Daniel Papez, would like to have given Fratto more than 18-to-life, but that’s the most he could give her. Papez said: “This is as violent as I’ve seen in 20 years on the bench. The attack on Micaela was brutal, it was vicious, it was violent — all shockingly so.” The Elko, Nevada, County D.A. agreed, calling the killing — which was neither quick nor merciful — “as horrific a murder as I suspect you will ever see,” while describing Mickey as “innocent a victim as you could imagine.”
Fratto’s defense lawyer tried to demonstrate that Fratto had the mentality of a 15-year-old — as if any normal 15-year-old doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong (never mind the little punk admitted at sentencing: “I know what I did was wrong”) — calling Fratto a “sheep” who was controlled “by a boyfriend who was jealous and possessive and isolating.”
“Security cameras at their school had shown footage of Patten choking Fratto,” reports the Daily Mail (“pushing Fratto against a wall, lifting her legs off the ground as he choked her,” adds the Salt Lake Tribune), noting that Fratto’s defense lawyer John Springgate “said it was not an isolated incident.”
Yeah, well, we know it’s hell for a lot of women to escape abusive boyfriends (and husbands). But most of them don’t murder on command.
Fratto says she’s sorry. Really, really, really sorry. She wept in court.
Somehow, we’re having a lot of difficulty mustering any sympathy for the little killer. Maybe because we still have nightmares, some 34 years later, about a classmate who was murdered by a jealous ex-boyfriend, dumped in the woods, and left to be picked apart by animals for a year and a half before the only solid part of her — a piece of her fractured skull — was accidentally discovered by some Boy Scouts.
Somehow, we cared a lot more about that girl’s mother, whose ship was anchored by the presence of her only child… a woman we grew to know only in the months after her daughter’s bones were found… a sweet, gracious woman who didn’t deserve that kind of pain, or any pain at all… than we did about that piece of garbage who murdered a young girl and enjoyed decades of freedom before being caught.
Toni Fratto will never be half as sorry as Mickey’s mother. Celia Costanzo can’t sleep. She hasn’t worked steadily in more than a year, the Trib tells us. “She cannot bring herself to go the restaurants where she once met her daughter for lunch. She can seldom cooks [sic] 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. There’s not a day, not a moment, not a second that I don’t think about her’…”
Fratto’s parents — West Wendover Human Resources Specialist and voice actor Claude Fratto and West Wendover Recreation Board member Cassie Fratto (Utah Mormons, we believe, straddling the Nevada-Utah border in a mobile home) — were, predictably, in denial, but seem to have finally accepted the fact that their Little Precious is a cold-blooded killer — and have switched tracks, praising her as some sort of noble heroine.
KSL reported in January that they “have said that their daughter fabricated the confession because she loves Patten,” yet eventually believed “the account she gave in court and that she did have some involvement in Micaela’s death.” KSL quotes Cassie Fratto: “Toni is a very courageous and honest person. She couldn’t live with this and this was the only right thing to do and she knew that and made this decision herself,” and reports that Claude Fratto “said that while he believes his daughter is also a victim, he was pleased with her decision to plead guilty.”
Cognitive dissonance is a beautiful thing, isn’t it?
We don’t see what’s so “courageous and honest” about owning up to torturing a defenseless teenage girl to death, and then blaming your boyfriend for what you did, because you’re too chicken to face The Ultimate Penalty. It seems to us that the “courageous and honest” thing would be to, oh, we don’t know, maybe not murder anybody, for any reason, much less a few lousy text messages. But, hey, maybe we just live by a higher standard, or maybe we have a different definition of “courageous and honest” than the Frattos do.
At least Cassie Fratto feels “sorry” for Mickey’s family — but we want to spit nails when we hear Cassie Fratto say of her Bad Seed: “This is a very difficult thing for her to be going through and she couldn’t live with this any longer.”
And what, Cassie, do you think Celia Costanzo is “going through”? Do you think maybe, just maybe, there are moments, and hours, and days, Celia Costanzo feels she “can’t live with this any longer”?
So, yeah, our sympathy (empathy, actually) lies with the bereaved, and not with any pathetic murderers (or their cognitive-dissonant parents), who deserve what they get, and more. (Except the death penalty. We don’t believe in the death penalty. Even if some creep were to kill us someday. And you can quote us on that.)
And we weep, too — for Mickey’s mom, and for Mickey, and for everything this bright, promising young person could have enjoyed, and could have offered to the world, in the 60 or 70 years that were taken from her.
• “Fratto hearing begins DA presents evidence in teen murder,” Elko Daily Free Press, July 14, 2011
• “Woman offered plea deal in killing of West Wendover teen,” Deseret News, January 23, 2012
• “Woman pleads guilty to murder of teen,” KSL.com, January 27, 2012
• “Nevada teen sentenced to life in prison in slaying of 16-year-old West Wendover High classmate,” AP, April 16, 2012
• “Judge orders life sentence for murder ‘as violent as I’ve seen’,” Deseret News, April 16, 2012
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