JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri woman whose 9-year-old daughter was killed by a teenage neighbor in 2009 has agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit that requires the imprisoned killer to pay her more than $5 million.
Patricia Preiss signed a deal Monday to settle the lawsuit she filed against Alyssa Bustamante, who was 15 when she killed Preiss’ daughter, Elizabeth. Prosecutors alleged Bustamante committed the crime to see how it felt to kill someone.
Bustamante, who is now 23, confessed to the killing. She was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
It’s unclear if Bustamante has the means to pay the settlement. Attorneys for her and Priess did not immediately return phone calls seeking details Tuesday from The Associated Press.
Bustamante signed the settlement agreement in March, but documents show Preiss didn’t agree to the deal until Monday, The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2eKromR ). A trial was scheduled to begin on Aug. 7. Bustamante is serving her sentence at the Women’s Eastern Missouri Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Vandalia.
Bustamante pleaded guilty in 2012 to luring Elizabeth to the woods in the small town of St. Martins, just west of Jefferson City. She slit the girl’s throat and strangled her before burying her in a grave she had dug several days in advance, according to investigators.
Under the lawsuit settlement, Preiss agreed to dismiss any remaining counts. Bustamante also is required to notify Preiss if she receives any compensation arising from publicity about the case.
Information from: Jefferson City News Tribune, http://www.newstribune.com