As the days draw nearer to his sentencing convicted murderer Kody Patten is shouting his love and devotion to his accomplice, Toni Fratto.
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“Every time he thinks she is near enough he will begin yelling stuff like ‘Toni I love you’,” one source said. “She hasn’t answered back. She just wants to get out of the (Elko County) jail to where she is going (prison).”
Scheduled to be sentence July 31, Patten pled guilty to first degree murder of Micaela “Mickie” Costanzo in a case that garnered international attention.
Patten’s girlfriend Toni Fratto was sentence this April to 18 years to life on one count of second degree murder after striking a plea bargain with the Elko District Attorney office. Originally facing a first degree murder charge like her boyfriend District Attorney Marc Torvinen allowed the 19 year old teen to plead to the lesser charge in exchange for her testimony against Patten. According to Patten’s own attorney John Ohlson of Reno, Fratto’s testimony would have almost assured his client ending up on death row if the case went to trial.
Less than a week after Fratto was sentenced Patten also accepted a deal. In his case however the only thing Torvinen conceded in the deal was to take the death penalty off the table. Patten faces a possible sentence of life without the possibility of parole. for patten and his attorney anything less than that would be a win and somehow they must convince Judge Dan Papez that sometime in the very far future Kody Patten should have at least the hope of leaving prison.
Patten’s lawyers have booked an entire day to present their case that kody patten should be at least given the small hope and jut this week Papez accepted their motion to present expert testimony from Reno Psychologist Ted Young.
While it is unknown exactly what Young will testify to, it has been Patten’s attorneys contention all along that their client was little more than a dupe, and that the real mastermind of Mickie Costanzo’s killing was Toni Fratto.
Of the two confessed killers patten certainly had the longer history of violence. Anecdotes about Patten’s assaults on other children go back to the days he was in daycare, while Fratto has been described as a meek mouse of a girl.
Patten’s lawyers have implied however that beneath that mild front Toni Fratto was seething with hatred and rage toward Costanzo and they claim Fratto’s diaries support their claim.
Some of the most damning entries could be read during Patten’s sentencing. If Patten’s attorneys do use those sections of fratto’s diaries they may very well call Fratto herself to the stand.
The only reason why she has not been transferred yet to the Nevada Women’s Prison in Clark County.
“I doubt very much that the District attorney will call her as a primary witness during the sentencing.” said a source close to the case. “She will be there to rebut if Patten’s lawyers try to assert that she was the real leader in the murder.”
With their psychologist’s testimony, Patten’s defense may just argue that their client as evidence by his long history of violent behavior may have been unable to control himself during the commission of the crime and that Fratto used Patten as an attack dog to get rid of a rival. In fact Patten’s attorney could well argue that their client is mentally ill and therefore not deserving of life behind bars.
That theory has found at least some sympathy with Mickie Costanzo’s family which portrayed Fratto’s claim to shared victim hood by patten with derision and disbelief.
In an interview last month Mickie’s mother Celia Costanzo said it is her belief that it was Toni Fratto and not Kody Patten who was the ring leader in organizing her daughter’s murder.
Already that belief may have saved Patten’s life. According to the victim’s mother it was she who gave the okay for the District Attorney to re-offer Patten the plea bargain after Fratto copped her own deal when he was facing trial and a possible death sentenced.
There is also the unlikely possibility that Fratto on the stand may change her story to favor Patten.
“Its a long shot,” said a source. “But who knows this case has already seen more than its share of suprises.”