Jeffery Trevino deserves more than twice the prison time typically recommended for his crime because of egregious acts he committed after killing his wife, a prosecutor argued in a memorandum filed Wednesday.
A jury convicted Trevino, 39, in October of second-degree unintentional murder in the death of Kira Steger and acquitted him of the more serious second-degree intentional murder. The conviction has a guideline sentence range of a little more than 10 years to 15 years in prison, with 12 ½ years being the midpoint.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Andrew Johnson filed a memo requesting that the court sentence Trevino to 30 years in prison because of aggravating factors in the case, including the fact that Steger’s body went missing.
“The defendant deserves a double upward departure,” Johnson wrote. “For over two months, Steger’s friends and family, the community and law enforcement searched for Steger’s body through the cold and snow. They aren’t the ones who found it, but Steger’s grandfather did find the plastic bag containing the blood-soaked pillow. It’s difficult to imagine how the family must have felt after this awful discovery.”
Trevino’s attorney, John Conard, has previously said he believed his client would face at most 20 years. Conard said Wednesday that he would respond to Johnson’s request.
“After the jury worked so hard on this case to reach their verdict, the state essentially seeks to undue that work and ask the court to sentence Jeffery Trevino as if he’s guilty of” second-degree intentional murder, Conard said. “I would be very surprised if the court gave them anything near where they’re asking.”
A midpoint sentence for second-degree intentional murder is 25 ½ years.
Johnson and Assistant County Attorney Richard Dusterhoft argued at trial that Trevino killed Steger, 30, in February because she wanted a divorce while Trevino wanted to save their marriage. Steger was having an affair with a male co-worker at the time.
She was last seen in public with Trevino and went missing after the couple’s date night at the Mall of America on Feb. 21. Her body was discovered in the Mississippi River on May 8.
Johnson and Dusterhoft told jurors that Trevino killed Steger in a jealous rage in their St. Paul home because she had texted the man she was having an affair with throughout the date with her husband. Trevino concealed her body by dumping it in the river, they argued.
“All the while, the defendant knew exactly where the body was,” Johnson wrote. “Had the body not floated away and gotten caught on a barge, it might have gone unfound for much longer, perhaps forever … [and] he only thought about himself, not caring about the trauma he was causing others.”
Prosecutors first argued for a stiffer sentence in a court filing in April. In that memo, Johnson also argued that another aggravating factor was Trevino’s failure to render aid to the victim.
The aggravating factors and case law support a stiffer sentence, Johnson wrote in Wednesday’s memorandum.
Trevino will be sentenced Monday, at which time District Judge Leonardo Castro will decide whether aggravating factors exist in the case. He will also rule on Conard’s motion to dismiss all charges against Trevino. Conard argued that there was no legal basis for the conviction. Johnson said that evidence and case law supports the conviction.
Friends testified that Trevino and Steger began having marriage problems about the time she was hired as co-manager of Delia’s, a clothing retailer at the Mall of America. Steger became friends with the district manager, who hired her, and the two began an affair in January.