JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – Police say a 15-year-old girl killed her 9-year-old neighbor because she wanted to know what it felt like. Cole County Judge Jon Beetem ruled that Alyssa Bustamante should be tried as an adult.
Bustamante allegedly strangled Elizabeth Olten, 9, slashed Olten’s throat and stabbed her repeatedly on Oct. 21. Bustamante had dug the hole for Olten’s grave a week before the killing, according to court testimony.
Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. David Rice testified during the adult certification hearing that Bustamante confessed to investigators and led them to Olten’s body in the woods, near the two girls’ homes in St. Martins, Mo.
When prosecutors asked Rice for a motive, he responded, “Ultimately, she wanted to know what it felt like.”
Bustamante’s appointed attorney Kurt Valentine said she should remain in the juvenile system and warned that Bustamante would kill herself or be killed by others if she is placed in the adult system.
But David Cook, Cole County chief juvenile officer, recommended that Bustamante be tried as an adult.
Judge Beetem agreed, saying the killing was vicious and that the state had no adequate facilities to treat Bustamante in the juvenile system.
The hearing testimony painted Bustamante as a bright student troubled by depression. She ranked roughly in the top third of her class at Jefferson City High and had been in no trouble at school or with the law. But Cook testified that Bustamante had tried to kill herself when she was 13 and has been receiving treatment for depression and for cutting herself.
Bustamante pleaded not guilty. She faces life in prison if convicted.
St. Martins is 10 miles west of Jefferson City.