Bustamante pleads guilty to killing 9-year-old girl

Tuesday, January 10, 2012 | 10:14 a.m. CST; updated 4:00 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 10, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY — A Missouri teenager who told authorities that she strangled, cut and stabbed a 9-year-old neighbor because she wanted to know how it felt pleaded guilty Tuesday in the girl's death.

Alyssa Bustamante pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Oct. 21, 2009, killing of Elizabeth Olten in St. Martins, a rural town just west of Jefferson City.

Bustamante, who was 15-years-old at the time of the killing, had been charged with first-degree murder and scheduled to be tried as an adult later this month.

Prosecutors said Bustamante plotted Elizabeth's death, even digging two holes to be used as graves, then attended school for about a week while waiting for the right time to kill. They said Bustamante strangled Elizabeth without provocation, cut the girl's throat and stabbed her.

At a November 2009 hearing, Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. David Rice testified that she confessed to the slaying and led authorities to Elizabeth's body. Rice testified that Bustamante said "she wanted to know what it felt like" to kill someone.

In June, Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce blocked prosecutors from using part of the statement to police in her murder trial. Joyce ruled that a juvenile officer wrongly participated in the interview and "used deceptive tactics" during the questioning.

Hundreds of volunteers searched for two days for Elizabeth before her body was found.

Juvenile justice officials testified that Bustamante had attempted to commit suicide in 2007 and had been receiving mental health treatment for depression and cutting herself.


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