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Bustamante pleads guilty to killing 9-year-old neighbor

Bustamante pleads guilty to killing 9-year-old neighbor

January 11th, 2012 in News

Supporters of 9-year-old homicide victim Elizabeth Olten prepare to drive away from the Cole County Courthouse a few minutes after Alyssa Bustamante entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder Tuesday morning, Jan. 10, 2012, in Jefferson City, Mo. In October 2009, the child was found murdered near her St. Martins home. Bustamante, then 15, was arrested and charged in death a short time later. Bustamante's sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Feb. 6, 2012.

Photo by Kelley McCall/News Tribune

Alyssa Bustamante pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to an amended charge of second-degree murder and a separate charge of armed criminal action for the Oct. 21, 2009, killing of a 9-year-old neighbor who had been visiting Bustamante's younger sister.

Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson on Tuesday told Presiding Circuit Judge Pat Joyce there was no plea bargain or agreement on sentencing, and the state still will recommend a punishment for Bustamante to face.

By law, she faces at least 10 years and up to 30 years - or life - in prison on the second-degree murder conviction. The armed criminal action charge carries a minimum sentence of three years, and also could be up to life in prison.

During the Tuesday hearing, Joyce asked Bustamante how she killed Elizabeth Olten.

"I strangled her and stabbed her in the chest," Bustamante responded, saying she used a knife as the weapon.

When asked by Joyce, "Did you also cut her throat?," Bustamante said, "Yes," in a firm voice.