November 26, 2014

Bustamante trial to stay in Cole Co., jurors to be brought in from elsewhere

A status hearing was held today in Jefferson City in the case Alyssa Bustamante, who is accused of killing 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten in rural Cole County.

Attorneys Don Catlett, left, and Charles Moreland, public defenders assigned to the Alyssa Bustamante's murder case, were in court Tuesday morning to ask for a change of venue hearing for their client. Photo courtesy Julie Smith / Jefferson City News Tribune

Attorneys Don Catlett, left, and Charles Moreland, public defenders assigned to the Alyssa Bustamante's murder case, were in court Tuesday morning to ask for a change of venue hearing for their client. Photo courtesy Julie Smith / Jefferson City News Tribune

The case has received national attention, and although Bustamante’s attorneys requested to move the trial to different county, Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce decided to select a jury from outside of Cole County and keep the proceedings locally centered, taking the family members into consideration.

Bustamante was 15 when she allegedly lured Olten into the woods, strangled, stabbed and cut her throat, then buried her. Authorities say she dug two graves days before the killing. She told them she “wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone” when she confessed to the killing, according to reports.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Bustamante is being represented by two attorneys from Columbia, Boone County — Donald Catlett and Charles Moreland — both with capital litigation division of the State Public Defender’s Office.

Cole County prosecutor, Mark Richardson, left, and defense attorney, Don Catlett, one of two public defenders assigned to the Alyssa Bustamante's murder case, were all in court Tuesday morning for a change of venue hearing. Photo courtesy Julie Smith / Jefferson City News Tribune

Cole County prosecutor, Mark Richardson, left, and defense attorney, Don Catlett, one of two public defenders assigned to the Alyssa Bustamante's murder case, were all in court Tuesday morning for a change of venue hearing. Photo courtesy Julie Smith / Jefferson City News Tribune

Bustamante’s legal counsel asked in December for a change in venue, but at today’s hearing, Prosecutor Mark Richardson says “he expects to call a large number of witnesses” and that it would be a burden to Elizabeth’s family to have to travel.

Catlett said he still is waiting to receive copies of police reports and other evidence needed for a trial; a date has not yet been set.

Bustamante was not present in the courtroom today, but will be at the March 8 hearing. Members of the Olten family were in the courtroom.

Bustamante status hearing [Download / listen Mp3, 3:31]

Jessica Machetta reports [Download / listen Mp3, 1:14]