Statements Kira Steger made to family members and friends before she died will be admitted at trial, a judge decided.
Jeffery Trevino’s trial was moved to Sept. 16 to allow his attorney to conduct an independent investigation of autopsy results on Kira Steger.
This is the second time Trevino’s trial has been postponed to allow the defense and prosecution to gather more evidence.
Trevino, 39, faces two counts of second-degree murder in the death of Steger, his wife. Steger, 30, disappeared on Feb. 22 and was reported missing by her husband to police two days later.
Steger’s body was discovered in May in the Mississippi River with broken bones and a head wound. Trevino’s attorney, John Conard, said he received the medical examiner’s report about a week ago.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Richard Dusterhoft said at Trevino’s motion hearing Monday that authorities also are seeking more information about cellphone records.
In a motion to delay the trial, Conard wrote that Steger’s cellphone was powered on and functioning in Brooklyn Center on March 22, a month after she disappeared. Authorities identified the person who had the phone, and someone who sold it in April will be identified, he wrote.
“It has been disclosed by report in the last week, that a VOXER message was sent by Kira and received by a credible witness on February 25, 2013, 3 days after her car was abandoned at the Mall of America,” Conard wrote. “As a result, Defense has initiated additional investigation into the various technical aspects of that software …”
Conard also filed a motion challenging the credibility of Ramsey County Medical Examiner Dr. Michael McGee, citing McGee’s testimony in a Douglas County case in which a man was convicted in 2006 of killing his infant daughter. The defendant, Michael R. Hansen, was granted a new trial after a judge found that McGee provided “false or incorrect” testimony. McGee had testified that Hansen’s daughter died of a homicide due to “closed head trauma,” but five doctors later called by the defense said the death was likely accidental suffocation.
Charges against Hansen, who served six years behind bars, were eventually dropped.
Judge Leonardo Castro didn’t make a decision on that motion, saying that McGee’s credibility could be addressed on a case-by-case basis if Conard’s independent investigation found contradictions in the doctor’s work.
Castro also granted the prosecution’s request to admit some hearsay statements Steger made to family members and friends expressing unhappiness with her marriage and plans to leave Trevino. Castro denied the admittance of statements in which Steger allegedly said that Trevino was controlling.
Conard argued against admitting the statements, saying that Steger was “badmouthing” her husband to cover up an affair.
“[The marriage] is coming to an end because of an affair she’s having that she’s hiding from these friends,” Conard said.
Police found that Steger had been romantically linked to another man whom she exchanged numerous text messages with the last night she was seen alive, Feb. 21, while she was having dinner with Trevino at the Mall of America. Police found the man’s address written in Trevino’s car.
Family members for both Steger and Trevino declined to comment.