Verdict for Bustamante in child murder case
Thu, 09 Feb 2012 04:54:55 GMT —
Judge Pat Joyce sentenced Alyssa Bustamante to life in prison, plus 30 years for armed criminal action on Wednesday, both sentences have the possibility of parole.
You'll remember Bustamante killed her nine-year-old neighbor in October 2009.
According to KRCG in Jefferson City, Missouri , Cole County Prosecuting Attorney, Mark Richardson said, â??I believe that judge Joyceâ??s sentence was a just sentence and in this case it serves the ends of justice."
Alyssa's public defenders called her sentence "harsh", but are relieved there's a possibility of parole.
Charles Moreland said, â??It's appropriate that the sentence she has, although an opportunity for parole will be many, many years down the road, at least that option is available because she is a good candidate for rehabilitation and redemption "
The defense argued Alyssaâ??s troubled childhood with parents who abused drugs and frequently left Alyssa alone caused an emotionally disturbed child.
Don Catlett said, "A severely, mentally disturbed child who was facing a great deal of vulnerabilities and was struggling with depression."
The prosecution pointed out even with a mental illness; Alyssa, as a 15-year-old, knew right from wrong and knew what she was doing when she dug a grave days before the homicide and lured Elizabeth into the woods, by telling her she had a surprise.
Neither the Bustamante nor Olten family would speak on camera after the sentencing.
Once news of the verdict was announced, pink balloons were released in honor of Elizabeth.
Just before the sentencing, a normally unemotional Alyssa broke into tears and spoke to the Olten family saying she was sorry for everything and if she could give her life to get back Elizabethâ??s, she would.
Catlett said, "A life sentence is 30 years, she has to serve 85% of that before she's eligible for parole."
Of the armed criminal action sentence, by law she's required to serve 33 percent before eligible for parole.
That means the minimum Alyssa would serve is about 35 years, but if parole isn't granted could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Bustamante's lawyers say they are hopeful Alyssa will get the mental health attention she needs while in prison.
An Olten family spokesperson said this: "The sentencing process was extremely difficult for the family, as no sentence can adequately punish this heinous crime."
(Story by KRCG reporter Kate Walls Lauman. Click here for the complete story.)