JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri teenager who had described the slaying of a young neighbor girl as an “ahmazing’’ thrill made an emotional apology yesterady to the girl’s family and was sentenced to a potential lifetime in prison.
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, stared ahead as Bustamante apologized.
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.
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.