Alyssa Bustamante Headed to Court to Plea Guilty
JEFFERSON CITY - Just three weeks shy of a scheduled trial date for 17-year-old Alyssa Bustamante, a family spokesperson for murder victim Elizabeth Olten confirmed to KOMU that Bustamante's defense could accept a plea deal in court on Tuesday morning.
Though KOMU could not reach prosecuting attorney Mark Richardson or defense attorney Donald Catlett, Pam Cafourek confirmed a motion hearing will be held at 9 a.m. at the Cole County Courthouse.
Cafourek said Richardson informed Olten's mother this morning that he planned to offer a second-degree murder plea bargain to Bustamante's defense team. She said Richardson told the Olten family later this afternoon that the defense had agreed to the deal. In court Tuesday, "All [Bustamante] has to do is show up," Cafourek said.
According to the spokesperson, if Bustamante agrees to the guilty plea of second-degree murder, judge Patricia Joyce will decide whether to uphold the agreement. If Joyce sustains the deal, a sentencing hearing will be set. The maximum sentence for the second-degree charge is 30 years in prison with the possibility of parole.
Cafourek said Olten's mother "is absolutely devastated. She wanted it to go to full trial. She wanted [for Bustamante] life in prison without parole. She thought we had enough for the jury to convict her, and apparently Mark didn't feel that way." Cafourek said Richardson told the family initially he would not offer a plea agreement to Bustamante.
"If [Bustamante] changes her mind between now and tomorrow, then it will go to trial," Cafourek said.
Bustamante is scheduled to be tried for first-degree murder as an adult on Jan. 30. She is accused of murdering her nine-year-old neighbor, Olten, two years ago in St. Martins, Mo.
The official Missouri courts website has yet to publish any official changes in the trial proceedings set for Jan. 30., nor has it confirmed Tuesday's motion hearing.
If the plea agreement falls through and Bustamante is tried and found guilty of first-degree murder, she could face up to life in prison. Of the 30-year maximum sentence a second-degree charge could carry, Cafourek said, "That's all [the attornies] feel Elizabeth's life is worth."
KOMU 8 will have a reporter at the hearing, and will keep you updated throughout the day.