High school diploma still out of reach for Missouri teen murder suspect

Monday, August 23, 2010 | 5:20 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri judge has again denied a request to let a teenager accused of killing a 9-year-old neighbor continue her education while awaiting trial.

Sixteen-year-old Alyssa Bustamante is charged as an adult with first-degree murder for last fall's killing of Elizabeth Olten in a rural area west of Jefferson City. Bustamante has pleaded not guilty and is jailed without bond awaiting a trial next spring.

Bustamante was a high school sophomore when she was arrested. Her lawyers sought to compel the Cole County sheriff to provide the resources and opportunity for her to finish her high school education, including enrollment in a distance learning program.

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce on Monday denied the request. Authorities say Bustamante has the same access to education books as other inmates.

It's the second time Bustamante's request has been turned down.

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