Reporting Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A jury has found Jeffery Trevino guilty of second-degree murder, but not guilty of second-degree murder with intent in the death of his wife, Kira Steger.
The jurors found that Trevino did kill his wife but that it wasn’t his plan. They say her death happened during his attack.
Trevino will be sentenced on Nov. 25. The maximum sentence is 40 years, but Trevino could get more if the judge believes there are aggravating factors in the case.
“We will never have our daughter back, but at least justice has been done,” said Kira’s father Jay.
The St. Paul man was accused of killing his wife in their home last February, then hiding her body in a river.
As the verdict was read, Trevino’s family could be heard weeping in the courtroom. Steger’s family was sitting quiet, motionless, some wiping their eyes.
“I’ll probably be able to get a good night’s sleep,” said Kira’s mother Marcie. “If (Kira) was here, I’d say, ‘He’s not going be walking away for what he did.’”
Prosecutors alleged Trevino was angry that his wife was having an affair and wanted a divorce. The defense attorney contended the forensic evidence did not add up.
“To us, it was obvious it was intentional but at least it was a guilty verdict,” Marcie said.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said he was satisfied with the verdict.
“The bottom line is we got the conviction. We’re very pleased about that,” Choi told The Associated Press. He noted the difficulty in getting a conviction in a circumstantial case.
The jury of eight men and four women received the case around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. The jury resumed deliberating at 8 a.m. Wednesday, worked right through lunch and at 4 p.m. they presented a question to the judge.
The answer was, “yes, those are all possible combinations.” The question will be public information, but is not yet known.
“I think we have to respect the jury and we do,” defense attorney John Conrad said. “Naturally, we’re disappointed with the outcome.”
Steger was last seen on Feb. 21. She was with Trevino at the Mall of America, where her car was later found.
Days after Steger’s disappearance, a bloody pillow, Steger’s sports bra and sweatshirt were found in a bag near Keller Lake.
Her body was found in the Mississippi River on May 8.
Prosecutors claim Trevino killed Steger at their home, then dumped her body in the river. They said he had motive to kill her because she was having an affair and wanted out of their marriage.
The defense argued there wasn’t enough physical evidence to prove Trevino killed her. They say the amount of blood found in the home was only about half a teaspoon’s worth.
Autopsy reports showed she was likely smothered.
Trevino did not testify in his own defense, and his attorney did not call any witnesses.
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