Missouri teen's murder trial set for May 16

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | 2:27 p.m. CDT; updated 4:36 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 27, 2010

JEFFERSON CITY — A central Missouri teenager accused of killing her 9-year-old neighbor is scheduled to go on trial next spring.

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce on Tuesday set a May 16 trial for 16-year-old Alyssa Bustamante, who is charged as an adult with first-degree murder for the killing of Elizabeth Olten last fall in a rural area just west of Jefferson City.

Authorities say Bustamante dug two holes several days before the slaying and confessed to police that she killed Elizabeth because she wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. Law officers say Bustamante led them to Elizabeth's body in a wooded area in their neighborhood in St. Martins.

Bustamante, who has pleaded not guilty, did not attend Tuesday's hearing. Several people wore white T-shirts that read "Justice for Elizabeth."

The judge also heard testimony Tuesday over whether Bustamante, who was a 15-year-old high school sophomore when she was arrested, should continue to receive an education. She is being held in jail without bond.

Joyce denied a request in May from Bustamante's attorneys that the Cole County Sheriff's Office pay for Bustamante to continue her education through a distance learning program. Defense attorneys on Tuesday offered additional information and took testimony from a Jefferson City public schools official and Cole County Sheriff Greg White.

White said Bustamante is being treated the same as other inmates and that he does not believe state law requires sheriffs to provide a public education. He said Bustamante has access to a book for a high school equivalency program.

Joyce said at the conclusion of the hearing that her opinion has not changed.

The next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 19.


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