JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri teenager who confessed to murdering a young neighbor girl was described as a thrill killer by prosecutors and a mentally disturbed child by her defense attorneys as a judge heard arguments Tuesday on whether she should be sentenced to life in prison or something less.
The small courtroom in Missouri's capital city descended into chaos as Prosecutor Mark Richardson was making an impassioned, final plea for a lifelong sentence for Alyssa Bustamante, who pleaded guilty murdering 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten in October 2009.
Bustamante's grandmother, tears flowing from her eyes, stormed out of the courtroom, followed by her grandfather. Then Bustamante — who had been staring blankly downward as prosecutors recounted her crime — began silently crying for the first time in her court proceedings that have spanned more than two years.
Richardson continued talking, describing Bustamante as an evil person who coldly calculated the murder. Then when Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce announced that she would reveal her sentence on Wednesday, Elizabeth's grandmother interrupted with a cry out from her wheelchair.
"I think Alyssa should get out of jail the same day Elizabeth gets out of the grave!" declared the grandmother, whom a prosecutor later identified as Sandy Corn.
The disorder capped an emotional, two-day sentencing hearing highlighted by repeated references to words Bustamante — then age 15 — had written in her diary on the night she strangled, slit the throat and repeatedly stabbed Elizabeth. Bustamante wrote that it was an "ahmazing" and "pretty enjoyable" experience, ending the entry by saying: "I gotta go to church now...lol."