“I gotta go to church now . . .lol”
Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it. But don’t let the words fool you. This was part of a journal entry made by 15 year-old Alyssa Bustamante of St. Martins, Missouri. She had just strangled, cut and stabbed 9 year-old Elizabeth Olten and buried her under a pile of leaves in the woods in October, 2009. Elizabeth was a neighbor of Alyssa’s and went missing as she was walking home from a friend’s house.
Additional writings introduced by the prosecutor included this chilling statement:
“I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead. I don’t know how to feel atm. It was ahmazing. As soon as you get over the ‘ohmygawd I can’t do this’ feeling, it’s pretty enjoyable. I’m kinda nervous and shaky though right now. Kay, I gotta go to church now . . .lol.” After which Alyssa headed off to a youth dance at her church while a search party was out looking for Elizabeth Olten. When apprehended, she allegedly told a police officer that “she wanted to know what it felt like” to kill someone.
Alyssa was charged with first-degree murder. Her confession to a juvenile officer was thrown out by the judge because of deceptive tactics used in her interrogation. She agreed to plead guilty to second degree murder and armed criminal action to avoid a life sentence without the possibility of parole. In February, 2012, 18 year-old Alyssa was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for Elizabeth’s murder. She received 30 years for the second offense and must serve 85% of her sentence before becoming eligible for release. The issue of whether a juvenile can be sentenced to life without parole in a homicide case is before the Supreme Court with a decision expected by summer, 2012. See here for the details.
Alyssa spoke for the first time after hearing her sentence, addressing the Olten family: “I just want you guys to know that I really am sorry for everything. I know that words can never be enough, and they can never adequately describe how horrible I feel for all of this. I’m so sorry. If I could give my life to give her back, I would.”
Her attorneys presented what’s been referred to as the “Prozac” defense. They argued that she was more prone to violence due to taking the antidepressant. But the prosecutor countered this argument with evidence that she had dug two graves a few days before the killing and her diary entries.