A video shows Alyssa Bustamante, a 17-year-old convicted of murder, egging on her brother and a friend to grasp an electrified fence. The video, which went viral on the Net on Youtube, was taken down briefly following the January 10 conviction of the Missouri girl, but re-emerged. Bustamante is shown grasping the fence as well, and then screaming in pain. The two boys accept her challenge and, after grasping the electrified wire, apparently are knocked out of their shoes. In another video on YouTube, she is shown hamming it up on a school bus with friends. A post at the video notes that Alyssa tells one of the other teens on the bus, “I am gonna put a cap in your ass,” which is apparently a threat to shoot.
Bustamante, who turns 18 on January 28, was tried as an adult in the vicious murder of Elizabeth Olten in St. Martins, a rural town west of Jefferson City MO. On Octoer 21, 2009, when Alyssa was 15 and Elizabeth was nine years old, Alyssa strangled and then stabbed to death her erstwhile playmate to death. Following this, Alyssa also slit the little girl’s throat. At the hearing on January 10, Alyssa was crestfallen as the presiding judge read out loud the amended charges against her. When she was asked whether she understood that she was giving up her right to a trial, she replied “Yes.” She had been scheduled for trial on January 30.
Alyssa, when solicited by Cole County Judge Patricia Joyce, told the stunned courtroom what she did that fateful October in 2009. “I strangled her and stabbed her in the chest.” Alyssa. Judge Joyce added, “Did you cut her throat too?”. Gazing firmly, Alyssa answered “Yes.” Bustamante told the judge that she knew what she was doing at the time of the slaying. Alyssa had been charged with first-degree murder, and by pleading guilty to a lesser murder charge she avoided a trial. A conviction would have meant a life sentence in an adult facility with no opportunity for parole. Judge Joyce will decide on sentencing in a February 6 hearing just how long Alyssa shall remain confined. The murderess’ sentence could be as short as 10 years, or as long as life with the possibility of parole after about 25 years. During her two years in jail, Alyssa remained silent in public.
(Elizabeth Olten, victim)
Prosecutor Mark Richardson would not comment following the January 10 hearing about his reasoning for the reduced charges. He may speak after the sentencing. Some question whether the “deceptive tactics” described by Judge Joyce came into play in the reduction of charges. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in March of this year on whether sentencing minors to life without parole is unconstitutional. In that case, the Supreme Court will look at a couple 14-year-olds convicted in Arkansas and Alabama.
A detective testified that Bustamante had attempted to commit suicide in 2007 and had been receiving mental health treatment for depression and cutting herself. Alyssa is the daughter of an unwed mother who is alleged substance-abuser. On a YouTube page in her name, now defunct, one of Alyssa’s hobbies was listed as “killing people.” A few weeks before the murder she tweeted, 'This is all I want in life; a reason for all this pain.’
Alyssa’s attorney, Charlie Moreland, said that his client had a “lot of issues” at the time of the murder. He asked whether a life sentence would suit the gravity of the crime due to Alyssa’s background.