Hearings to argue Bustamante’s punishment

A final chapter in the Elizabeth Olten murder case begins at 9 a.m. Monday, when Cole County Presiding Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce begins taking evidence to help her decide how long a prison sentence Alyssa Bustamante should receive.

Bustamante, who turned 18 on Jan. 28, pleaded guilty Jan. 10 to killing Olten, 9, on Oct. 21, 2009.

Two days have been scheduled for the hearings, after the lawyers for both sides told Joyce they would need more than one day to present evidence.

The sentencing hearing will be conducted in Joyce’s fourth-floor courtroom in the Cole County Courthouse.

That leaves room only for the lawyers, court staff, family members and friends of both Bustamante and Elizabeth Olten — and up to a dozen media representatives.

There are no seats available for the general public.

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