Alyssa Bustamante, 18, is in the custody of the Missouri Department of Corrections, and will be for at least another 33 years.
Judge Pat Joyce handed down a sentence described as “harsh” by Bustamante’s public defenders Don Catlett and Charles Moreland, who were asking that the armed criminal action sentence be run concurrent with the life in prison sentence for second-degree murder. Joyce ordered Bustamante to serve life with the possibility of parole as well as a consecutive sentence of 30 years for armed criminal action with the sentences to run consecutively.
According to the Dept. of Corrections Parole Board, she’ll have to serve a minimum of 85 percent of the life sentence — which is 30 years under Missouri statute — and 33 percent of the 30-year armed criminal action sentence. That works out to be 35 years, five months, and three days, says Corrections spokesman Chris Cline. She will be credited with time served in the Cole Co. jail, a little over two years.
Prosecutor Mark Richardson had asked Joyce to hand down 71 years for armed criminal action because, as he stated in closing arguments, that’s how much time she took away from Elizabeth Olten, the 9-year-old girl she strangled, stabbed, slit her throat and then buried her in a shallow grave in the woods.
Bustamante, who was 15 at the time of the murder, was originally certified to be charged as an adult and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. (Federal law prevents juveniles to be sentenced to death even when certified to stand trial as an adult.)
Later, the prosecution agreed to reduce the charge to murder two in exchange for a guilty plea, which also bypasses the jury trial process.
Though Richardson didn’t get the 101 years he asked for, he says justice has been served.
If Bustamante serves her maximum combined sentence — 60 years — she’ll be released when she is 76.
AUDIO: Defense Attorneys Charles Moreland and Don Catlett on the crime, sentence (31:18)
AUDIO: Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson on damage to Olten family, sentence (26:31)