Jeffery Trevino resisted friends’ help finding his missing wife and bristled at social media efforts he thought were going “viral” and were “blown out of proportion,” witnesses testified Friday.
The revelations came on the second day of testimony in the trial of Trevino, 39, who faces two counts of second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 30-year-old Kira Steger. She was last seen on Feb. 21 and her body was recovered on May 8 from the Mississippi River.
The couple’s friend, Yaw Baoteng, revealed two new jolting details when he testified in the afternoon.
Trevino and his roommate, Matthew Roff, spent the night at Baoteng’s house on Feb. 25 as authorities combed Trevino and Steger’s rental home in St. Paul for evidence. At that point, Steger had not been seen for four days. Baoteng testified that he saw a scratch mark on Trevino’s forearm. Trevino’s attorney, John Conard, has said that someone snapped and broke Steger’s finger during an apparent attack.
Baoteng testified that on Feb. 26, Trevino said he had had a great night’s sleep. “He told the detective himself he had one of the best night’s [sleep] he’s ever had,” Baoteng said. “We thought it was out of the ordinary for him to say.”
Friday’s testimony revealed that friends who’d known both Steger and Trevino for years found her disappearance odd, and Trevino’s behavior out of step with what they’d expect from a husband in that situation. A total of 20 out of an expected 55 witnesses have testified so far — 10 on Friday — in the trial scheduled to last another two weeks. It’s unclear if Trevino will take the witness stand.
Prosecutors allege that Trevino killed Steger in a jealous rage because she was having an affair and wanted to leave him. The defense will bank its case on what it has described as faulty forensic evidence that allegedly included a large amount of blood in the couple’s home
Steger’s childhood friend, Lindsey Wolf, testified that Trevino demanded she remove a Facebook post she created on Feb. 24 alerting others to Steger’s disappearance. The post included a picture of Steger, a phone number for St. Paul police and a plea for friends to share the post. Trevino reported Steger missing to police earlier that day.
Trevino messaged her on Facebook, “Call me plz.”
Wolf, who lives in Wausau, Wis., said she called Trevino, and he told her to remove it.
“He was very angry,” Wolf said. “He was agitated.”
Steger’s friend Michelle Stecker said Trevino also complained to her. He called her Feb. 23 and 24 looking for Steger. Stecker said he spent the majority of the conversation complaining about Steger’s alleged drinking and partying.
“Did he seem overall concerned with her well-being and her safety?” asked Andrew Johnson, Ramsey County assistant attorney. “Not to me,” said Stecker.
During cross-examination, Conard noted that Trevino’s concern with the Facebook post was that Steger would have to explain her affair if she wasn’t missing, and that if someone had her, the attention would force the person to “get rid of her.”
Stecker said that Trevino did share those concerns with her. Authorities have said Steger was romantically linked to the district manager of the clothing retailer Delia’s, and that the relationship was part of her growing dissatisfaction with her marriage to Trevino. Steger worked at the Delia’s store at the Mall of America.
The court also heard from Trevino’s longtime friend, Jesse Mix, who said that he urged Trevino to call Steger’s mother, Marcie Steger, about the disappearance.
Trevino was “hesitant, but he agreed,” Mix told the court. He also said Trevino complained about the Facebook post.
“He thought it was being blown out of proportion,” Mix testified.
Johnson asked if Trevino used that phrasing. Yes, Mix said.
The presence of blood in the home — and whose it was — will become a key issue. Trevino’s 15-year-old daughter testified Friday that she sometimes has two to three nosebleeds a week if the air is dry. Authorities have said large amounts of blood were found in the East Side house.
She said that she has bled in her father’s home, but not in the bedroom, where authorities say they found blood.
The teen said she saw her dad clean the kitchen on Feb. 23 in preparation for moving out by April 1. She testified that she did not see him using a carpet cleaner or cleaning other rooms. Authorities allege that Trevino cleaned up the crime scene.
Kelly Hervin, a civilian criminalist with the St. Paul police, also testified about surveillance video and stills taken from a strip mall where Trevino put gas in Steger’s car and his own car on Feb. 22.
Hervin testified that Steger’s white car, allegedly driven by Trevino, turned left onto Larpenteur around 2:10 a.m., and that a car matching Trevino’s maroon SUV turned right out of the same lot at 8:07 a.m.
Prosecutors have told jurors that turning right is the quickest way to the couple’s home, and turning left heads toward Interstate 35E, implying that Steger’s body could have been inside her own car that morning. Testimony resumes Monday.