JEFFERSON CITY - Wearing pink ribbons in remembrance of the 9-year-old St. Martins girl killed nearly a month ago, two Jefferson City High School students watched as a classmate faced first-degree murder charges.
Alyssa Bustamante, 15, was indicted Wednesday for the murder of Elizabeth Olten and certified to stand trial as an adult."We went to school with Alyssa, but we're not here supporting her," said Maggie Fowler, 17, a junior at Jefferson City High School.
Wednesday afternoon, Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce read Bustamante the charges against her and entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf. Bustamante, her wrists shackled to her waist, told the judge that she had yet to meet with an attorney from the public defenders office and was unable to pay for her own defense. Earlier in the day, in a separate judicial proceeding before a different judge, Bustamante was certified to stand trial as an adult rather than have her case handled as a juvenile matter.
After the adult certification, a Cole County grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Bustamante for murder in the first degree and armed criminal action, according to release by Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson. The first-degree murder charge alleges that Bustamante strangled, stabbed and cut Olten's throat with a knife.
Fowler's mother Jodi Nichols, 34, said that people were remembering Olten by wearing pink, her favorite color. Four people in pink t-shirts emblazoned with Olten's name circumscribed around a heart could be see sitting behind Richardson in the court's afternoon session. Nichols said Olten's family had been distributing the t-shirts.
Nichols said she was surprised witnesses weren't called to testify that Bustamante wasn't mature enough to be tried as an adult during the morning session in which Cole County Circuit Judge Jon Beetem certified Bustamante to stand trial as an adult. "I thought it would have helped," Nichols said.
Beetem ruled that the crime was vicious and that the state did not have appropriate facilities to treat Bustamante as a juvenile, according to an earlier Associated Press story.
Both Fowler and Tiffany Lucas, 16, said they were surprised at the lack of emotion Bustamante showed during the indictment.
With bangs falling over her left eye, Bustamante blinked repeatedly as Joyce read the charges. A brief lip quiver was the only outward show of emotion by Bustamante during the afternoon session.
The two teenagers in attendance also said they felt Bustamante should be tried as an adult.
"If they make an adult crime, they should be considered an adult," Fowler said.
While Fowler only shared a lunch period with Bustamante, she said she took off school so she could witness the trial for herself.
Lucas said she attended because a lot of rumors have been flying around school.
"They're trying to say it's linked to a teacher who committed suicide a few weeks earlier, but it's not," Lucas said.
A Jefferson City High School teacher, Bill Currie, committed suicide the Monday after Olten's body was found. Citing student privacy laws, school spokesman David Luther would not confirm whether Bustamante was in his class or if the incidents are connected.
If convicted, Bustamante faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.