JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOX/AP) –  A Missouri teen who confessed to murdering her young neighbor to see what it felt like to kill someone was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole Wednesday morning.

Moments before her sentence was imposed, 18-year-old Alyssa Bustamante rose from her chair with shackles linking her ankles and holding her hands to her waist and turned to face the family of 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten, whom she confessed to killing in October 2009.

“I really am extremely, very sorry for everything. I know words,” she said, pausing to take a deep breath and struggling to compose herself, “can never be enough, and they can never adequately describe how horribly I feel for all of this.”

She later added: “If I could give my life to get her back I would. I’m sorry.”

Elizabeth’s mother, Patty Preiss, who on the first day of Bustamante’s sentencing hearing called her an “evil monster” and declared “I hate her,” sat silently, staring forward as Bustamante’s finished her apology.

Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce then sentenced Bustamante to the maximum possible sentence for second-degree murder life in prison with the possibility of parole. She ordered the teenager to serve a consecutive 30-year term for armed criminal action, a charge resulting from her use of a knife to slit the throat and stab Elizabeth after she had strangled her into unconsciousness.

Elizabeth’s family declined to comment about the sentencing, as did Bustamante’s family.

There were no immediate indications that Bustamante planned to appeal the sentence.

Bustamante originally had been charged with first-degree murder but pleaded guilty last month to the lesser charges to avoid a trial and the possibility of spending her life in an adult prison with no chance of release.

Bustamante was 15 years old at the time of Elizabeth’s murder in the small town of St. Martins, just west of Jefferson City. Evidence presented during her hearing revealed that Bustamante had dug a shallow grave in the woods several days in advance, then used her younger sister to lure Elizabeth out of her home with an invitation to play. Bustamante, who had hidden a knife in a backpack, said she had a surprise for Elizabeth in the forest. The surprise turned out to be her demise.

During her two-day sentencing hearing, prosecutors referred repeatedly to an entry Bustamante wrote in her journal on Oct. 21, 2009 the night of Elizabeth’s death in which she admitted to having just killed someone.

“I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead,” Bustamante wrote in her diary, which was read in court by a handwriting expert. “I don’t know how to feel atm. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the `ohmygawd I can’t do this’ feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now…lol.”

Bustamante then left for a youth dance at a Mormon church her family attended while hundreds of volunteers began a two-day hunt for the dead girl. Although she initially lied to authorities about Elizabeth’s whereabouts, Bustamante eventually confessed to police and led them to Elizabeth’s leaf-covered shallow grave.

Defenses attorneys had argued for leniency after presenting evidence from family members and mental health experts about Bustamante’s troubled childhood. Bustamante was born to teenage, drug-abusing parents; her father was imprisoned and her mother abandoned her, leaving her in the legal custody of her grandmother.

After a suicide attempt on Labor Day 2007 as she was starting eighth grade, Bustamante was prescribed the antidepressant Prozac. Her dosage had been increased just two weeks before Elizabeth’s death. A defense psychiatrist testified that the medication could have made Bustamante moodier and more violent and contributed to the murder a theory rejected by a different psychiatrist testifying for prosecutors.

Charlie Moreland, one of Bustamante’s attorneys, described the sentence imposed Wednesday as “a harsh punishment.”

“This was a child who had been spiraling out of control, but has treatable conditions,” Moreland said.

Under Missouri guidelines, Bustamante would have to serve 35 years and 5 months in prison before she is eligible for parole, said Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Cline. It’s also possible that the more than two years Bustamante spent in jail while awaiting her sentencing could be counted toward that time.

After spending several weeks at a diagnostic prison, Bustamante could be placed in either one of Missouri’s two female prisons or sent out of state. Cline said department officials also would evaluate whether Bustamante should be kept separate from other adult woman inmates.

AP/KMOX © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comments (26)
  1. John Westra says:

    Alyssa Bustamante is obviously a psychopath. The ONLY action that meets the criteria of Justice and a “Civil Society” is to give her 24 hours to make peace with whatever deity she calls G/god and then send her to Him for final judgement.

  2. Herbert Kaufman says:

    You’re going to solve the problem of murder by a murder? I am not anti-capital punishment, but I draw the line at executing children. That is for militant Islamic societies, not ours. I also agree with the prosecution that if she ever sees the light of day again; she will kill again.

    1. Marshall says:

      She is 18 now; No longer a child in the eyes of the judicial system, or the public for that matter. She does not disserve life because of what she did. I would personally rather see her get the death penalty, than to pay for her to live the rest of her life. The amount of money that this country spends on keeping murders alive is insane.

      1. Eric Timmons says:

        Then argue for the system to be fixed. If associated costs are too high, that’s the problem. Stop sending people to prison for non-violent crimes, for example. You don’t fix problems by “killing more people”. There are numerous examples of innocent people being put to death by your “justice system”. “Cheaper” does not equal “Justice”.

      2. FugginMorons says:

        I think it’s pretty clear she is guilty. Executing her quickly is the best solution.

    2. Dan says:

      Quarter mane this little tramps, unfortunatly the horses would have to work to hard to do it. Liberals are the reason we have these kinds of problems in the worls

  3. FugginMorons says:

    Public execution. Plain and simple. Hang her from the gallows for the world to see.

  4. FugginMorons says:

    “You’re going to solve the problem of murder by a murder?”

    Yes, in fact the more heinous the execution the more likely these spoiled little brats will think twice about their actions. Don’t want to get fed to the lions while on fire? Then don’t murder your neighbor. Pretty simple plan actually.

    1. Ricky says:

      That type of punishment will not work with anti-social behaviors. You seem grossly uneducated and ignorant. Do not make comments on matters you know nothing about, “fuggin moron”.

      1. FugginMorons says:

        “That type of punishment will not work with anti-social behaviors”

        Says who?

        “You seem grossly uneducated and ignorant. ”

        Based on what?

        “Do not make comments on matters you know nothing about, “fuggin moron”.”

        And who the h3ll do you think you are? You are even more pompous then that other clown. Clearly you hold yourself morally superior to everyone else.

        You can crawl back in your hole now.

  5. Eric Timmons says:

    I’d say she’s insane. Killing the insane is hardly justice, and most certainly the opposite of civil. Perhaps you’re just ignorant, John Westra? In that case don’t judge yourself.. you probably think the ignorant should be disposed of, too.

  6. Eric Timmons says:

    I’m certain she’s familiar with death, and how heinous it can be, FugginMorons. From her diary entries I’m willing to bet that witnessing it had virtually no impact on her conscience. Make some sense.

  7. FugginMorons says:

    “I’d say she’s insane.”

    Thanks for the amateur diagnosis.

    ” Killing the insane is hardly justice””

    Like h3ll it isn’t.

    I’m willing to bet that if the punishment was gibbeting or having her hands and feet cut off and tossed into a pool of lemon juice, she may have thought twice. And maybe not. But there is nothing redeeming about this riffraf and keeping her alive in prison for 50+ years is a waste of money. We are in a major recession after all.

    I know you think you are somehow morally superior to everyone else, but there is something to be said for this countries lack of discipline.

    1. Eric Timmons says:

      Lack of discipline? You mean like saying “why value life when it’s cheaper to just end it”? Like saying “why waste time rehabilitating criminals when the chair is so much faster”? Etc? I don’t think I’m “morally superior”, or better in any way.. I just think your logic is flawed, thoughtless. There is no justice in killing for killing.

      1. thoughtso says:

        You lack the ability to see the forest for the trees. Premeditative murder, especially of a child is indeed and executable offense. There is no justice for the American people to keeping this stain alive, hiding behind an insanity plea. Bustamante dies, sfw. wipe the stain from the table cloth. its not like anyone is saying execute a shoplifter.

        This girl murdered a 7 year old. I bet you also think that Susan Powell’s killer is still on the loose.

        Get off of your pretentious high horse and look at things situationally instead of unrealistically.

  8. FugginMorons says:

    “I don’t think I’m “morally superior”, or better in any way.. I just think your logic is flawed…”

    -And the defense rests…

    -So how do you “rehab” an “insane” child murderer who strangled, stabbed and sliced the throat of a 9 year old girl just to see what happens? I didn’t see that chapter in the DSM-IV

    1. Eric Timmons says:

      You could start by taking her off of the mind meds she was on. (You’re like those town folk who burned witches on the stake for ergot poisoning. Keep on burnin’, brother.)

      1. thoughtso says:

        you make illogical correlations, brother….
        would you like to start a strawman argument next?

      2. FugginMorons says:

        That’s it? “Take her off her meds”? Then what? You have provided nothing of substance.

        Clearly your argument is unwinding as you try to attribute the mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials to my line of thinking. Nice try but the straw man fallacy never works and only makes you look desperate to prove a point.

        Despite how absurd your “point” is and all the obvious differences between that event and this, the most profound is that the the “Salem witches” were innocent, Alyssa Bustamante, not so much.

        She didn’t steal a newspaper or traffic drugs, she brutally murdered an innocent child. She has forfeited her life. Hang her high and hope it’s a lesson to others.

      3. Ricky says:

        I do not agree with FugginMorons comments either but you are also an example of ignorance in this country. You obviously know nothing about anti depressant medication nor psychology… “mind meds”? do you even know what Prozac does? Blaming the medication for her crimes is a joke. Take a class, learn about first defense serotonin inhibitors and then make a comment. The problem with the right in this country is they are idiotic religious zealots and the problem with the left is they are into pseudo science and ridiculous ideas that have no backing.

  9. TruthBTold says:

    @Eric Timmons- You portray yourself as a holier-than-thou, lover of all mankind, sanctimoniuos fool. But you are completely lacking in compassion and true insight of yourself. If YOUR child had been hacked to death by this monster you would absolutely be singing a DIFFERENT tune. You would want this murderer gone from this planet. You have NO compassion for the dead child, none for her family. You sir, are a HYPOCRITE. Deal with it.

  10. LampLover says:

    I love lamp!

  11. LampLover says:

    “It is by exacting the highest penalty for the taking of human life that we affirm the highest value of human life.”

    Argue with that.

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