A Ramsey County district judge pushed back the trial date for Jeffery D. Trevino to give authorities more time to complete autopsy and DNA testing in the murder of his wife, whose body was recovered months after her disappearance in February.
Trevino’s trial was moved from May 28 to July 22 after prosecutors filed a motion to move the trial date. Assistant Ramsey County attorney Richard Dusterhoft told Judge Leonardo Castro Wednesday that the medical examiner’s office needed six weeks to complete its analysis of the body recovered May 8, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) needed four weeks for DNA testing.
About two dozen family members, friends and supporters for Kira Steger and five of Trevino’s family members attended the hearing. Both families declined to comment.
Trevino, 39, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in Steger’s death.
Defense attorney John Conard said authorities were slow in testing evidence collected at the start of the investigation when police searched the couple’s home on Feb. 25. Some evidence wasn’t tested until recently when he raised the question himself, said Conard, who has been part of a movement among defense attorneys to learn about DNA and drug testing and push for more transparency.
“They’re picking and choosing and creating the delay themselves,” he said.
Conard, a former Ramsey County prosecutor, accused prosecutors of connecting evidence with “innuendo” until he suggested testing some blood evidence. Conard said that recent tests show three or four mixes of blood in the home’s hallway, roommate Matthew Roff’s blood on the basement stairs and a different woman’s blood in the kitchen. (Authorities have said in court documents that there is no evidence to contradict Roff’s assertion that he was not involved in Steger’s death.)
The BCA is capable of turning out DNA results in a few days, Conard said.
Dusterhoft said that Conard’s allegation that prosecutors cherry-picked DNA testing “doesn’t cut it.”
Prosecutors have said it would take more than a month to fully examine Steger’s badly decomposed body, which was pulled from the Mississippi River and identified using dental records.
Dusterhoft said authorities didn’t initially test duct tape recovered earlier from Keller Lake in Maplewood because it didn’t seem relevant until Steger’s body was recovered with duct tape in her hair. Authorities are seeking to identify hairs on the tape and roll of tape. A pillow with blood that matched Steger’s DNA was recovered near the lake.
Steger, 30, was last seen alive on Feb. 21 having dinner and bowling with Trevino at the Mall of America, where she comanaged a clothing store. Though she was known widely as Kira Trevino, her legal last name had remained Steger after her marriage.
New information released Tuesday shows that Steger printed divorce documents from the Internet, and that she had been romantically linked to a Maple Grove man. She was texting him on Feb. 21, and his address was found written on something in Trevino’s car, according to court documents.
Castro also set a deadline of June 21 for attorneys to file their discovery, evidence to be presented at trial. That gives the defense a month to review test results in preparation for motion challenges and the trial, Castro said. A motion hearing is scheduled for July 1.