When I first heard about this story, I was disgusted. After reading the excerpts from her journal, I got chills:
“I just f—— killed someone. I strangled them and slit their throat and stabbed them now they’re dead,” Bustamante wrote in her diary, which was read in court by a handwriting expert. “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.”
That is not just horrifying. It’s deeply disturbing.
Defense attorneys argued that she had a horrible childhood. Her parents were teens who were drug addicts. Her dad ended up in prison, and her mom abandoned her. Grandma became her legal guardian. It’s a tragic story. Thing is, a lot of people had similar childhoods or worse. And they didn’t kill anyone, let alone a child.
Mental health professionals testified that she “suffers from major depression and displays the features of a borderline personality disorder. Some also said she shows early signs of a bipolar disorder.”
Ugh. That just bugs me. So many people suffer from depression. And some, like myself, are bipolar. Yet 99% of us don’t pull friends aside at parties asking, “I wonder what it would be like to kill somebody.” And even more wouldn’t actually do it to find out what it would be like.
That’s the thing. Mental illness and horrific childhoods may explain behavior. It doesn’t excuse it.
As far as her sentence. She plead guilty to second degree murder to avoid a trial and a sentence of life without parole. So now, she has to serve 35 years and 5 months before she is eligible for parole. One of her attorneys said that the sentence is a “harsh punishment.” Actually, if I were the DA, I wouldn’t have offered the plea deal. For me, the more appropriate punishment would have been death. Life without parole would be semi-acceptable. 35 years and then eligible? Not enough. At least she is where she is. Away from society and unable to fill the other grave she dug next to the one where Elizabeth Olten was found.