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Friend recalls unusual text messages on day victim died

ELKO -- Testimony in the preliminary hearing for a teenage girl charged with killing a West Wendover High School student focused Wednesday on unusual text messages the victim received on the day she disappeared.

Toni Fratto, 19, and her boyfriend, 18-year-old Kody Lee Patten, are charged with killing 16-year-old Micaela Costanzo after school March 3.

Court documents say Costanzo was buried in the desert about five miles west of Wendover after her throat was cut and she was hit with a shovel. Both suspects have pleaded not guilty, and no motive has been released.

On Wednesday, Tiffany Rasmussen, 17, the victim's best friend, testified in an Elko courtroom that Costanzo received unusual text messages from Patten on the day she vanished. Rasmussen said Patten and Costanzo once dated but had barely spoken in more than a year, the Deseret News reported.

"He was wanting to do a project," Rasmussen said, adding Patten didn't explain in the text messages what sort of project.

Costanzo "was just as confused as I was," Rasmussen said.

The victim's mother, Cecelia Costanzo, said Patten and her daughter were good friends as children, but she said she didn't know Fratto.

The hearing is expected to run through today. Prosecutors say they plan to call about two dozen witnesses. Patten's preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 2.

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