Judge stands by decision in Bustamante case

Alyssa Bustamante

Update: Tuesday, July 27 at 6:28 p.m.

Cole County Judge Pat Joyce has set a May 16, 2011 trial date for a teenage murder suspect Alyssa Bustamante .

Bustamante is accused of murdering 9-year-old neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, last October.

Joyce also stood by her earlier decision that the county has no obligation to provide Bustamante with education services while she awaits trial in jail.

The motion was already rejected, but Bustamante TMs attorneys apparently wanted a better court record of the issue of whether someone must provide the teenager with an education behind bars.

Attorneys believe state law requires that Bustamante continue her education.

However, the Jefferson City School District feels its obligation ended when Bustmante was certified to stand trial as an adult, was charged with first-degree murder, and was sent to jail. At that point, she was formally expelled from Jefferson City High School in accordance with the Safe Schools Act.

So, whose responsibility is it to educate Bustamante?

"That's a good question, Jefferson City Public School's Secondary Education Director Myron Graber testified. I mean, it's out of our hands at that point in time. So, it would either be a parental responsibility, or some other agency.

Defense lawyers think it falls to Cole County Sheriff Greg White, who has custody of Bustamante as she awaits trial.

"I don't see in statute anywhere where a sheriff is responsible for the continuing education of anyone placed in their custody, White tesified.

The lawyers think their client should have access to the internet at the county's expense. White said he and the sheriff of Morgan County, where Bustamante is now held, made arrangements for access to general education diploma materials and that's where they draw the line.

"So, she's being treated like any other inmate, with no special treatment," Cole County Mark Richardson asked White.

Yes, replied White.

Judge Joyce scheduled another status hearing in the Bustamante case for Oct. 19.

Update: Tuesday, July 27 at 3:10 p.m.

Cole County Judge Pat Joyce set another status hearing for Oct. 19, 2010 for 1:30 p.m.

See the case entry notice

Update: Tuesday, July 27 at 2:12 p.m.

Alyssa Bustamante TMs trial has been set for May 16, 2011.

Defense attorneys were trying to sway Joyce TMs previous decision to not let Bustamante continue her education with additional testimony.

The defense called two witnesses, Jefferson City Public School's Secondary Education Director Myron Graber and Cole County Sheriff Greg White.

White said that it is not my responsibility to provide Bustamante with an education while she is in jail.

According to the Safe School rule, after a student is charged with a crime, they are expelled from school. Graber said that since she is not a student with the school district, they are not required to provide her education.

Judge Pat Joyce is talking to lawyers from both sides behind closed doors.

Update: Tuesday, July 27 at 1:30 p.m.

Cole County Prosecutor Mark Richardson and Alyssa Bustamante TMs public defenders are in court Tuesday afternoon for a status hearing.

Bustamante TMs defense team will be calling witnesses to testify, including Cole County Sheriff Greg White.

Bustamante TMs grandmother was also seen entering the court room, no word if she will be testifying.

Two months ago, Bustamante TMs attorneys filed three motions, two of which Cole County Judge Pat Joyce granted. Attorneys filed motions so that Bustamante could wear regular clothes at the trial and to file future motions ex-parte and under seal.

Joyce did not grant the motion for Bustamante to finish her high school education as she waits for trial.

Original Story:

A hearing is scheduled Tuesday afternoon for an update on the status of the trial for 16-year-old Alyssa Bustamante, charged as an adult with first-degree murder for the killing of Elizabeth Olten.

Bustamante has pleaded not guilty and is in jail without bond.

Authorities say Bustamante dug two holes several days before the slaying and confessed to police that she killed Olten because she wanted to know what it was like to kill someone.