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THE WEEK'S MOST-READ STORIES: Alyssa Bustamante's troubled history, life sentence

Sunday, February 12, 2012 | 7:16 p.m. CST

Stories about Alyssa Bustamante, an 18-year-old from central Missouri who confessed to killing a 9-year-old girl and was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole, interested readers this past week. These are the 10 most-read stories posted last week on ColumbiaMissourian.com, according to Google Analytics data:

1. The Associated Press' story on Alyssa Bustamante's troubled background revealed family issues and her history of depression. Bustamante's grandmother, her legal guardian because of her absent mother and a father in prison, said Bustamante had attempted suicide in 2007 by swallowing pills from a large bottle of Tylenol and making hundreds of cuts on her arms. Bustamante started taking a higher prescribeddosage of Prozac two weeks before she killed Elizabeth Olten, 9, in 2009. (3,586 page views)

2. Hysteria brewed for the potentially final basketball game in Columbia between Missouri and Kansas, both ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation. Students braved cold, rainy weather to attend ESPN's "College GameDay" and get the best seats for the game. During pregame introductions, fireworks were shot off the top of the scoreboard. Missouri rallied at the end of the game to claim a 74-71 victory. (2,429 page views)

3. Columbia's Historic Preservation Commission named six properties to its 2012 Most Notable Properties list. The properties were the Arrowhead Motel, the Calvary Cemetery, the Harry Satterlee Bill and Florence Henderson House, the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority House, Columbia College's Missouri Hall and the Columbia Telephone Building. Another story highlighted the Arrowhead Motel and Calvary Cemetery. (2,277 page views)

4. A downtown venue called Tiger Town has been proposed for fan tailgates and celebrations on SEC football game days. The proposed area consists of the five to six blocks north of Elm Street, and fans would congregate at the intersection of Elm and Eighth streets. Some businesses in the area could be affected because of closed streets. (2,132 page views)

5. The Mizzou '39 award recipients were announced this past week by the Mizzou Alumni Association. The award recognizes outstanding seniors at MU for their academic achievement, leadership and service to the campus and community. The number 39 is in honor of MU's founding in 1839. Six athletes were named, including injured basketball player Laurence Bowers, and the recipients were honored during the Missouri-Baylor men's basketball game Saturday. (2,104 page views)

6. Bustamante apologized in court Wednesday after she received her life sentence, the AP reported. After previously confessing she strangled, cut and stabbed 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten because she wanted to know how it felt to kill someone, Bustamante said, "If I could give my life to bring her back I would — I'm sorry." (1,683 page views)

7. With the help of MU researcher Johann Bruhn, three farms in Missouri are breaking ground to cultivate black truffles. Bruhn and his colleagues have planted a research orchard at the MU Center for Agroforestry at New Franklin to see how the European mushrooms fare under Missouri conditions. He said he hopes the first truffles will develop as early as next year and hopes to use them to propagate more truffles. Some sell for about $400 a pound. (1,479 page views)

8. A Boone County grand jury indicted Georgia company DocX LLC on 136 counts of forgery and making false declarations related to mortgage documents. The indictment alleges DocX generated fraudulent signatures on 68 notarized deeds of release for properties in Boone County and submitted those to the Recorder of Deeds. This practice is called "robo-signing." Although DocX no longer exists, according to the report by "60 Minutes," it could face fines in Missouri of up to $10,000 per forgery conviction and $2,000 for each false declaration conviction. (1,337 page views)

9. Nischelle Turner, an MU alumna who also grew up in Columbia and graduated from Rock Bridge High School, became the new West Coast entertainment correspondent for CNN and "Showbiz Tonight," an entertainment show on HLN, on Dec. 1. She works in a studio and on red carpets, interviewing actors, singers and other celebrities. (1,329 page views)

10. Bustamante was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole Wednesday. The judge also ordered Bustamante, an 18-year-old from St. Martins, a small rural town west of Jefferson City, to serve a consecutive 30-year term for an armed criminal action charge. The teenager's defense attorneys had argued for a sentence less than life in prison, saying Bustamante's use of the antidepressant Prozac had made her more prone to violence. (1,313 page views)


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