Toni Fratto, 19, was sentenced Monday in Elko, less than three months after she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder with a deadly weapon in the March 2011 killing of Micaela “Mickey” Costanzo, 16.
“I would like to apologize for my actions and the tragedy that has happened. I know what I did was wrong,” Fratto said before she was sentenced. “I’m sorry for what I did to Micaela and for what I did not do — protect her. It does not change what happened. But I do mean I’m sorry.”
The Salt Lake Tribune reports Micaela’s mother, Celia Costanzo, wept as she left the courthouse.
“There’s a part of me that’s just been ripped away, and I’m not whole,” she told reporters. “There’s not a day, not a moment, not a second that I don’t think about her.”
Fratto will be eligible for parole after a minimum of 18 years, which includes a term for a weapons enhancement.
She faced up to life in prison after reaching a plea deal that dropped a first-degree murder charge and spared her the death penalty
Fratto has agreed to testify against her former boyfriend, Kody Patten, who is charged with first-degree murder in the case.
Both are accused of taking Micaela to a remote area near the Utah-Nevada border on March 3, 2011, after the teen had finished track practice at West Wendover High School. She was struck in the head with a shovel and her throat was slit before she was buried in a shallow grave.
According to court documents, Patten told investigators he pushed Micaela to the ground twice during a fight, and she hit her head on a rock the second time. Patten said he panicked when the girl went into “some sort of seizure,” so he struck her in the head with a shovel.
Prosecutors said Patten and Fratto buried Micaela in a shallow grave. Her body was found two days later.
Patten and Fratto also are accused of burning some of the girl’s personal items in another location.
Fratto hadn’t been a suspect until she offered a confession to Patten’s defense attorney. In the recording, she told lawyers Micaela wanted to date Patten, but he didn’t want anything to do with her.
Micaela had told a friend that Patten was sending her text messages that day about a school project, saying he would pick her up from school.
Fratto’s attorney, John Springgate, described his client as a girl mentally and physically abused by Patten. She was an active member of her Mormon ward and had no prior criminal history — something that seemed to confuse even the judge, according to the Deseret News.
“That’s what makes this even more puzzling, that a person like you could participate in such a terrible crime,” said Elko District Judge Daniel Papez. “Micaela’s loss to her family, to her school, to the community of Wendover will be felt forever. I hope that someday, Ms. Fratto, that you’ll be able to get your life back in order. You have to live with this forever.”