MARTINEZ, Calif. — A 16-year-old girl was convicted Wednesday of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a classmate she feared was about to tell schoolmates that she was "weird."
Bernadette Protti had been charged with first-degree murder in the June 23 slaying of 15-year-old Kirsten Costas.
However, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Edward L. Merrill, who heard the juvenile case without a jury, said prosecutors failed to prove first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt and ordered Protti to appear on April 1 for sentencing.
After surrendering in December, Protti told police she resented Costas and attacked her because "I was afraid she was going to tell people I was weird."
There also was a suggestion that Protti was jealous of her more popular and successful classmate.
"I lost for cheerleader and I didn't get the club I wanted and I didn't get (on the) yearbook (staff)," Protti told officers in a taped confession played at the trial. "The things that got me mad was it hurt and I couldn't change . . . like looks or money or popularity or things."
Protti lured Costas to her death with a phony invitation to an initiation dinner for the Bob-O-Links, a Junior League-style volunteer group at Miramonte High School. Both girls had been invited to join the group.
After the verdict, Art Costas, Kirsten's father, told reporters: "My feeling is that the law has been served . . . . We've lost our daughter. I don't believe the punishment will ever match the crime."