Man convicted of killing wife found in river

Published 9:41 am Thursday, October 3, 2013

ST. PAUL — A jury Wednesday convicted a Minnesota man in the slaying of his wife, whose body was found in the Mississippi River months after she disappeared, though jurors decided he did not intend to kill her.

In the second day of deliberations, the jury convicted Jeffery Trevino on one count of second-degree unintentional murder. The St. Paul man was acquitted on a second count that alleged he intended to kill his 30-year-old wife, Kira Steger. Steger’s body was found in the river in May, more than two months after she went missing.

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.

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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 said. He noted the difficulty in getting a conviction in a circumstantial case.

Steger was last seen alive Feb. 21. Her abandoned car was found in a parking ramp at the Mall of America, where she was co-manager of a clothing store, on Feb. 25. Bloodstains were found in the trunk, and a search of the couple’s rental home uncovered blood evidence, leading to Trevino’s arrest.

Steger’s father, Jay Steger, said he was happy with the conviction but unhappy Trevino doesn’t face more prison time. Prosecutors plan to seek the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

“I don’t think it’s enough,” Steger, 49, of Marshfield, Wis., said. “I feel no matter how much time he gets, it’s not enough because it’s not bringing my daughter back.”

Defense attorney John Conrad would not say if he plans to appeal

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the conviction,” Conrad said. But he noted that Trevino faces about half the prison sentence he would have faced had he been convicted of second-degree intentional murder.

In closing arguments, the prosecution contended Trevino killed Kira Steger after becoming fed up with her texting a co-worker with whom she was having an affair.

But the defense questioned whether Steger’s marijuana use may have led to her death. A bag containing marijuana was found in her purse, but a retired St. Paul police sergeant testified it was worth only about $20.

Trevino did not testify in his own defense, and his attorney did not call any witnesses.

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 25. Trevino will be held without bail until sentencing; he has been jailed on $1 million bail since being charged in February.