Kira Trevino's husband pleads not guilty as volunteers search lake

  • Article by: JOY POWELL and CHAO XIONG , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: March 30, 2013 - 8:09 AM

Kira Trevino’s husband pleaded not guilty to killing the missing St. Paul woman. At the same time, her relatives and volunteers continued to search for her body in Maplewood.

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Even without the body of Kira Trevino, there’s sufficient reason to try her estranged husband, Jeffery D. Trevino, on two counts of second-degree murder, a Ramsey County judge ruled Friday.

At the hearing, Jeffery Trevino also entered a not-guilty plea as more than 25 relatives and friends looked on in a Ramsey County courtroom in downtown St. Paul.

At the same time, volunteers congregated at Keller Lake in Maplewood to drill holes and lower sonar equipment in the continuing search for the 30-year-old St. Paul woman’s body.

Jeffery Trevino did not look at his wife’s family and friends as he stood under guard, in orange jail overalls, for his second evidentiary hearing.

Kira Trevino’s friend Nikki Engel watched it all, calling the situation “awful” and “sickening.” Engel said she believes her friend was slain by her husband as she prepared to leave their rocky marriage.

On Friday, after Engel left the courtroom, she said she had only one question she’d like to pose to Jeffery Trevino: “Why?”

Trevino’s attorney, John Conard, told the judge that prosecutors haven’t given him all the documents he needs to defend his client, in part because the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension does not release reports until they are complete.

“Documents exist that I don’t have,” he said, contending that it makes it “literally impossible” for him to properly evaluate his client’s case.

Prosecutor Richard Dusterhoft said he’s turned over as much of the reports and evidence that he can, including 910 pages of documents and 38 compact discs.

District Court Judge Gregg Johnson said there are grounds for the case to be assigned to a judge and a trial date set.

As Jeffery Trevino was returned to the Ramsey County jail, where’s he’s being held in lieu of $1 million bail, about a dozen of his relatives and friends filed out one side of the courtroom.

On the other side were those who were there for Kira Trevino, including her parents. Her father, Jay Steger, fielded condolences and dabbed at tears.

“It’s a tragedy,” he had said before the hearing began.

A lake like Swiss cheese

Meanwhile, at Keller Lake, dozens of holes dotted the ice where Kira’s relative Mike Teige had drilled alone for much of the morning.

He and his wife, April LaMere, pulled into Keller Regional Park about 7:40 a.m. and set up on the southwestern shore, where authorities first sent divers last week searching for the body of the clothing store manager. She was last seen late Feb. 21 as she and her estranged husband left the Mall of America, where she worked.

Teige, a cousin to Kira Trevino’s mother, served as her proxy at searches.

Kira Trevino had told others that she was looking for her own place and planned to move April 1.

  • related content

  • Volunteers looking for the body of Kira Trevino used an underwater camera to look into one of hundreds of holes drilled into the ice at Keller Lake.

  • Mike Teige, center with brown coat, a relative of Kira Trevino, took matters into his own hands Friday, showing up at Keller Lake to do his own drilling and search.

  • Kira Trevino’s relatives and volunteers, such as this one, have methodically drilled holes in Keller Lake to look for signs of the missing St. Paul woman. The searchers are using underwater cameras to search for Trevino. The search will continue on Saturday.

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