Bustamante Closing Arguments
JEFFERSON CITY - Cole County Judge Patricia Joyce will sentence Alyssa Bustamante Wednesday at 8:00 a.m.
Two full days of testimony ended Tuesday night with passionate closing arguments from prosecuting attorney Mark Richardson and defense attorney Charlie Moreland.
The prosecution repeatedly read gruesome entries from Bustamante's diary, assertively insisting Bustamante planned the murder, knew exactly what she was doing and "enjoyed" killing nine-year-old Elizabeth Olten in 2009. Meanwhile, Bustamante kept her eyes shut tightly. In one entry Richardson read to the court, Bustamante had written, "I'm going to murder someone."
Immediately, Karen Brooke, Bustamante's grandmother cried and ran out of the room sobbing. Bustamante broke down into tears--the first time she has expressed any sort of emotion in the two days of testimony.
Then, Olten's grandmother yelled out, "I want Alyssa to get out of jail when Elizabeth gets out of the grave."
Moreland argued Bustamante was mentally ill, saying mental illness "causes disasters." He reminded the judge of Bustamante's suicide attempt in August 2007, just days before she was to start a new therapy program. Moreland again referenced Bustamante's age and referred to Bustamante's usage of Prozac, a drug defense witnesses testified has adverse side effects on young females.
"We can pretend that she wasn't 15 at the time, but she was," Moreland said.
Richardson argued that 15-year-olds know the difference between right and wrong and are fully aware of what they are doing. Richardson put pressure on Judge Joyce to punish Bustamante harshly. He said it was her responsibility to issue a fair sentence to ensure no one else "kills for the thrill" again.
Richardson requested a life in prison sentence for Bustamante, and a consecutive 71 years for armed criminal action. He requested 71 years for each year he said Bustamante stole from nine-year-old Olten, if she would have lived a full life.
The court heard powerful testimony from a defense witness, psychologist Rosalyn Schultz, who detailed her extensive psychological evaluation of Bustamante on Dec. 7, 2011. She told the judge Bustamante's past family history induced many risk factors that increased the severity of Bustamante's depression and ultimately caused the girl to kill nine-year-old Elizabeth Olten. She mentioned the inadequate parenting and neglect in Bustamante's life, fear of abandonment, exposure to domestic violence within her family and frequent self-inflicted cutting. She said Bustamante most likely had an undiagnosed personality disorder that caused Bustamante to dissociate with reality.
"When she cut, she felt no pain," Schultz recalled Bustmanate telling her.
Prior to Schultz's testimony, the defense called up Bustamante's former high school counselor and nurse. Then, nurse Alyssa Neitzert presented pictures of 100+ cuts she had discovered on Bustamante's body during a physical evaluation. She said she never had seen someone with that many cuts from self-mutilation. One scar on her left arm read "Hate." Bustamante formerly told Neitzert these cuts were from the metal on a spiral notebook.
KOMU will provide live updates Wednesday morning, as they become available after the sentencing.
The sketch was provided by Jim Dyke of the Jefferson City News Tribune.