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Bustamante case shines light on role of juvenile officers

Handbook: All questioning should be done by law enforcement

Cole County Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce recently told prosecutors they can’t use some statements Alyssa Bustamante made during a Missouri Highway Patrol murder investigation interview — because a juvenile officer did more in that interview than state law allowed.

Bustamante was 15 when she was detained by juvenile authorities in October 2009, then interviewed by a Missouri Highway Patrol detective as part of the ongoing murder investigation.

Now 17, she was certified to stand trial as an adult a month after being detained, then charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the Oct. 21, 2009, killing of her neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, 9.

The Missouri Juvenile Officer Handbook, published by the Office of State Courts Administrator, spells out specific procedures an officer should follow during the “Interview And Interrogation Of Juvenile.”

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For starters, the handbook notes that state law requires that ....

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