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Morning headlines: Wednesday, February 8, 2012

St. Louis Public Radio file folder
Alyssa Bustamante was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole on February 8, 2012 for the murder of 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten.

Central Missouri teen sentenced to life with possibility of parole

Eighteen-year-old Alyssa Bustamante has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the killing of her 9-year-old neighbor.

The Central Missouri teen was sentenced this morning in Cole County Circuit Court. She pleaded guilty in January to second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the October 2009 stabbing and strangling of her neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, in St. Martin’s, a small town west of Jefferson City.

Bustamante was 15 at the time. She had been charged with first-degree murder. By pleading guilty to the lesser charges she avoided a trial and the possibility of spending her life in an adult prison with no chance of release.

Santorum wins Missouri primary

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum won Missouri's nonbinding Republican presidential primary Tuesday, claiming momentum in his challenge against national front runner Mitt Romney even though the victory won't earn him any delegates.

Santorum was the only Republican candidate to campaign for Missouri's primary. He had expressed hope that it could help cement him as a conservative alternative to Romney heading into a big round of state primaries in early March.

Missouri's primary was essentially a glorified public opinion poll. That's because state Republicans chose to award their delegates to the Republican National Convention using a caucus system that will begin in mid-March.

Nixon softens budget cut to higher education by tapping settlement with mortgage lenders

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon's budget called for a $106 million cut to higher education, but on Tuesday he proposed adding $40 million by using funds from the possible mortgage settlement. That would reduce the budget cut for two-year and four-year institutions from 12.5 percent to 7.8 percent.

State attorneys general and the federal government have been negotiating with the five largest mortgage lenders over accusations of flawed and fraudulent practices. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said Tuesday he has given preliminary support for a settlement. Koster says the settlement could net the state $40 million, with an additional $100 million to help Missouri homeowners.

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