Dateline   |  August 16, 2013

Under the Desert Sky, Part 5

One of Mickie's childhood friends is now a prime suspect in her disappearance. What will be tell police?

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> three days after mickey costanzo's brutalized body was unearthed in the desert, a family tragedy of a different kind was playing out in the wendover police department . mickey 's childhood friend kody patten had asked for a few minute alone with his father kip behind a closed door.

>> i didn't hear what was said, but at one point i heard some wailing from the father. i could hear him yell. it sounded to me like he was crying.

>> and then a few minutes later the detectives walked back into the interview room.

>> his father told him he needed to tell us what happened.

>> be a man.

>> uh-huh.

>> no telling what a lawyer might have told young kody patten , but this was a father who had just heard the worst news of his life from the lips of his own son and so here is

>> you got to start fixing this now as much as you can -- what you did is heinous, kody . i don't want to abandon you at all, okay? you've got to do what's right for micaela as well.

>> and this is what kody told them. that he picked up mickey at the school and when they started driving that mickey insisted kody break up with with his fiancee toni fratto and date her, instead. that when he refused --

>> she -- started yelling at me and she said that it's because i'm not leaving toni and then she started pounding on my chest and stuff.

>> by this time, said, kody , they were out of the car. out of the desert. she hit him, he said and then he pushed her.

>> she fell down and hit her head and she just laid there and was looking at the sky and, like, her eyes started to turn black. and i didn't know what to do. i just sat there and she started to, like, shake and seize.

>> kody insisted he tried to check her pulse and got nothing and then he said she started flopping so he grabbed a shovel from the car, and i tried to hit her on the head, right here somewhere, trying to just knock her out and it hit like, right here and it -- tore it up pretty bad.

>> he was very tearful. we had to stop several times to allow him to gain his composure back. a couple of times he told us he was getting physically ill while he was describing details to us.

>> kody continued saying he panicked to stifle the sound he cut her throat.

>> and then she stopped. i didn't know what to do. i was going to call my dad, but i knew that he would freak out. so i -- put her in the little grave thing i dug by the big bush, and i covered her up and i took the clothes over in the gravel pit area and burned them.

>> he stated he was a own and with micaela and he never indicated anyone was present or aware of it.

>> he did it alone. did he tell anybody why?

>> no, he did not.

>> they arrested kody then, cuffed him, charged him with murder. he intended to join the marines after high school . now he could face the death penalty .

>> patten has been enrolled as a student in the west wendover junior senior high school and has been attending until the time of his arrest.

>> it was after he confessed, after they'd put him in jail that kody finally hired an attorney. john olson , his specialty is keeping accused killers off death row , but kody , unlike some of olson's other clients didn't seem at all like a crazed killer.

>> you obviously got to know him well.

>> what sort of family did kody have?

>> nice family. they're working people . they seemed to be fairly close. they did a lot of things together.

>> of course, that's kody 's attorney talking, but even mickey 's family, the very people you'd expect would demand the death penalty , in fact, felt quite a different emotion.

>> i was completely shocked. it's not the person that i knew, and my husband was there when i said kody didn't do this. he would never hurt her, and he says, babe, he did, and i said -- then somebody made him do it. and i said that every single day since then. somebody made him do it. [ male announcer ] let's go places. not just the ones you can find on a map. but the ones you can