JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Alyssa Bustamante looked down, her long brown hair covering her teenage eyes, as a judge read the charges against her: murder and armed criminal action, for knowingly strangling, cutting, and stabbing her 9-year-old neighbor.
For more than two years after she was arrested as a high school sophomore, Bustamante had been publicly silent about the gruesome crime, which a patrol officer testified she confessed to committing because “she wanted to know what it felt like.’’ Yesterday, it was her time to talk.
Describe what you did, a judge instructed Bustamante, as she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for killing Elizabeth Olten.
“I strangled her and stabbed her in the chest,’’ Bustamante, 17, said in a clear voice, looking straight at the judge.
“Did you cut her throat too?’’ the judge asked. “Yes,’’ Bustamante responded.
She used her hands for strangling and a knife for the rest of the attack, Bustamante told judge.
Bustamante had been charged with first-degree murder, and by pleading guilty to a lesser murder charge, she avoided the possibility of spending her life in an adult prison with no chance of release.