Under the Desert Sky   |  August 16, 2013

Under the Desert Sky, Part 12

A new theory about what may have happened to Mickie and why she was murdered.

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

>>> they for separate prisons now. kody patten at one end of the state, toni fratto the other. different stories about the murder, different sentences, too. toni fratto is 20 now, she'll have a chance at parole in her late 30s, but kody patten will die in prison. so in a way, this is an academic question, but there's one more version of the story of the murder of mickey costanzo which we found buried in the court file and it just might provide an answer. remember that plea deal kody first accepted and decided to pass on. here's the story behind that very dramatic moment. kody had just started making a sworn statement to the d.a., and was going to be a frank account of what really happened and why. here's how it began, he said. there was an incident the afternoon of the murder just down there at the school. toni confronted mickey in a school hallway. toni saw mickey in the hallway, said kody and called her a slut. said look at there, there's that slut. the girls argued, said kody and told kody , knock it off. plausible? may be. before anybody heard about kody 's statement, mickey 's sister d.j. told us this. toni really hated her. she'd walk by and toni would say something so rude under her breath.

>> we're talking about a couple of years, though.

>> the hatred in toni grew more and more and more, i don't know why, to tell you, but it just escalated.

>> as kody told the d.a., it escalated to a fever that day and so he suggested, why don't you guys just talk it out? and toni agreed and said, she just wanted to duke it out with micaela , so i relayed the message to mickey and she wants to fight it out and mickey came to the resolution and said okay. so mickey did get into a car with him, voluntarily. they drove around for a while, said kody and they picked up toni and they all headed to the gravel pits and what did kody tell the d.a. about what happened there? well, it turned out, nothing because just then kody 's attorney john olson arrived at the hearing and the two met, conferred briefly and kody stopped talking and changed his mind and rejected the plea deal and never told his story again and his statement was filed away, but olson who never disputed that kody was involved does have his own opinion about what probably happened at the gravel pits.

>> my guess would be that there was an opportunity for toni to confront micaela .

>> and they went out to to the desert to have the confrontation away from prying eyes.

>> a bad idea that became a screw up.

>> a bad idea that became a horrible idea.

>> a bad idea that went very, very bad. was it an idea hatched on the spur of the moment ? who knows? at least not according to d.j. who said she witnessed the hostility escalate for months. she heard toni bad-mouth mickey time and again and she saw toni play one nasty prank after another, including one that seemed like more than just a prank.

>> he had a little box cutter blade and he swiped it across her arm, and at first she said i didn't even know and i looked down and i'm bleeding and i look at him and he's laughing.

>> is that kind of the straw that broke the camel's back with her? that was. she said he's not worth it. and that i really don't want a person like that in my life at all.

>> and from then on mickey avoided kody , never spoke to him, cut him out of her life.

>> he grew really angry at her after that. would do things to try to make her mad, just so she'd talk to him. it was a real shock to him to all of a sudden have her there through thick and then and then never have her.

>> an angry and abandoned kody , a jealous toni ? maybe that's why mickey had been so worried said d.j. about what those two might be up to.

>> she said he keeps trying to get me to go with him. he was constantly trying to get her --

>> to get her to go out with him and toni .

>> and she was fully aware that she was public enemy number one as far as toni was concerned.

>> she just said i don't -- i don't get it. it's not right. something's just wrong.

>> costanzo family said mickey would never have gone with kody and toni voluntarily and there is evidence of that. the zip tie found around mickey 's arm. something else, mickey 's family is convinced that toni and kody knew that the few days around the time of the murder were the only days they'd find mickey alone after school.

>> the timing was too perfect. it was the one time, the one time that d.j. was at college. christina and donald were at nascar. i was at work. it's the one time in all of this time that micaela would have actually had to walk home.

>> which when we heard that made us wonder in our interview did toni slip and reveal a hidden truth? remember, she claimed she was an abused woman and unwilling accomplice there only out of fear, but listen to this. does it indicate the very planning revealed in kody 's statement to the d.a., planning that included picking a place for the showdown?

>> when we finally got out to the designated area and everything --

>> what do you mean the designated area.

>> where everything went down.

>> that area was designated?

>> well, just the area where we ended up.

>> no plan to go there insisted, toni . so designated area, maybe, maybe not, but also a festering jealousy, scores of text messages, a zip tie and one more explosive ingredient, an affair. police revealed that kody had been seeing an older woman the very woman with whom he borrowed the suv used the night of the murder. toni knows that now, of course, that the other woman wasn't mickey , but did she know it then the night they killed her?

>> a woman knows whether you're that age or my age you know something's maybe not right. who that person might be, i don't think she would have ever in a million years thought it was an adult so that the next person she, in her mind would think would be my daughter even though it's completely wrong.

>> does that sound like toni was an abused woman obeying an angry boyfriend or a scorned woman determined to rid herself of the perceived rival? an unanswered question which is probably the best we'll get said attorney olson.

>> outside of the participants who are outlined, nobody knows . nobody knows , and nobody's going to know.

>> they're never going to reveal it.

>> but then would any answer ever be good enough.

>> i want the truth, will i ever get it in no. they'll never tell me and there's nothing they can say or do that will make it better. they cannot fix this.

>> three families broken in west wendover . kody patten will never come home. toni fratto might some day, but too late for them.

>> i don't think i will still be alive when she gets out. i don't think that there will be a time that we'll be together like that again.

>> west wendover high school has retired mickey costanzo 's basketball jersey. it hangs now in a place of honor. outside, the students got together to paint and sign a huge rock, a memorial in her favorite color. up in the high desert mountains, outside wendover is a ranch with the small family cemetery. it's a peaceful, sacred place where micaela costanzo , where mickey now rests.

>> the ranch is home. she's exactly where she would want to have been. she's laying right next to my father, and she is in the most beautiful spot in the world to me. sho she's, like, sitting on top of the world . we all knew that my mom, myself, we'd all eventually be there, just not in the order that it seems to have happened.

>> and here, on a little strip on i-80, wendover will still waves his grinning welcome, but he points to a place a little older now and sadder as if the neon lights turned up among the desert casinos had picked up a layer of grief.