No last minute plea deal; vetting of jurors begins
Prosecutors trying Jeffery Trevino for murder in the death of his wife plan to introduce evidence about the contents of her stomach, posts from Facebook and Instagram, multiple surveillance videos and text messages.
Trevino’s trial started Monday with Ramsey County District Court Judge Leonardo Castro asking if Ramsey County assistant attorneys Richard Dusterhoft and Andrew Johnson had a last-minute plea deal for Trevino.
Trevino, 39, faces two counts of second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Kira Steger, 30, who went missing Feb. 22 and was found in the Mississippi River on May 8.
Dusterhoft said Steger’s family opposed a plea deal, and that the defense wasn’t interested in one. Trevino’s attorney, John Conard, said there had been discussions that he considered a “non-offer.”
Trevino’s family members sat in the back of the courtroom Monday as attorneys hammered out the final details of what is expected to be a three-week trial. Trevino, who is being held at the Ramsey County jail, wore a blue dress shirt and dark slacks to court.
Prosecutors will also present autopsy photos at the trial.
“They’re quite limited for a number of reasons, but they probably won’t be very graphic,” Dustheroft said of the photos.
A barge mechanic discovered Steger’s body in the river in downtown St. Paul. It was so badly decomposed that dental records were used to identify her.
A medical examiner will testify about the contents of her stomach, presumably to narrow down when she died. The last night she was seen alive, Feb. 21, Steger had dinner with Trevino at the Mall of America.
Steger worked as co-manager of Delia’s, a clothing retailer at the mall. She failed to show up to work on Feb. 22 and 23. Trevino reported her missing to police on Feb. 24. A Feb. 25 search of the St. Paul house the couple rented in the 500 block of Iowa Avenue E. turned up what authorities allege was blood evidence, leading to the arrest and charging of Trevino.
No weapon will be introduced as evidence, although prosecutors expect to present potentially biohazardous evidence. Authorities haven’t revealed much about how they think Steger was killed, other than to say it was due to “homicidal violence.”
Fifty-five witnesses for the prosecution and defense are expected to be called.
The attorneys agreed that Trevino’s character will not be tried so there will be no character witnesses.
“There’s some sensitive information that wouldn’t be really relevant unless there’s an attempt to besmirch Mr. Trevino’s character,” Conard said.
Attorneys agreed that evidence about the marriage and Steger’s concerns about the marriage will be admitted as evidence. Family members and friends told police that Steger wanted to leave her husband, but, according to charges, he “ ‘didn’t get it’ and kept trying to find ways to stay together.”
Steger was looking for her own apartment, and divorce papers were found inside her car abandoned at a Mall of America ramp. Her blood was found in the trunk, authorities allege.
Steger also was romantically linked to another man.
Fifty-four potential jurors were brought in Monday and asked to complete an 11-page questionnaire. They will return Tuesday morning for further questioning by attorneys.
Opening statements and testimony could begin Wednesday.
Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708