Day 1 of Trevino trial; jurors hear from Steger's friends and family

7:53 PM, Sep 19, 2013   |    comments
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  • Kira Steger

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jurors sitting on the Jeffery Trevino murder trial took in an emotional first day in which the state got through its first nine and a half witnesses.  

The witnesses were mainly Kira Steger's friends, family members, and co-workers.  Prosecutors say Trevino killed his wife Kira Steger in February; her body was later found in the Mississippi River.

"This is about rage.  It's about jealousy.  It's about deception.  It's about a cover up.  It's about a failed marriage," Ramsey County Assistant Attorney Andrew Johnson told the jury in opening statements, explaining that Steger was having an affair and wanted to leave her husband.  Johnson also detailed several surveillance cameras that attorneys say track Trevino's movements on the last night that Steger was seen alive.

The defense, it seems, will focus on forensic evidence, as the state has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  "Less than a thimble of Kira Steger's blood was found in the master bedroom," Defense Attorney John Conard told the 14 member jury.  He also questions DNA evidence and other stains and blood found in the couple's bedroom of their home on St. Paul's eastside.

Several of Kira Steger's co-workers and close friends took the stand, talking about Steger's marital problems and detailing conversations they had with Jeffery Trevino before and after Kira Steger was reported missing.  The court also heard from a waitress from Crave restaurant who served Steger and Trevino on the last night she was seen alive.  She says the couple seemed awkward, like they were on a first date.

Steger's youngest sister Felicia was the first to testify, telling jurors her sister confided in her that she was unhappy in her marriage and thinking about getting an apartment away from her husband.  Kira's mother Marcie also took the stand, telling the court her daughter said "You know mom, I just don't want to go home (each night)."  Marcie Steger also detailed a call she got from Trevino after he reported his wife missing.  "He was very calm during this conversation.  He said 'there are some things you need to know," she noted, before saying the defendant detailed the problematic marriage he was in.

The most emotional testimony was given by Keri Anne Steger, who was very involved in the initial search for her sister back in February.  She said she called Trevino when she heard her sister was missing.  "He (the defendant) said well Keri, I know Kira.  I loved Kira.  I asked him why are you speaking about my sister in the past tense? He got very upset," she told the jury.

The final witness of the day was Matt Roff.  Only prosecutors got the chance to question him as defense attorneys will have plenty of questions for him when the trial resumes Friday morning.  Roff was a roommate of Trevino and Steger's.  The couple lived upstairs, Roff in the basement.  He said the last night they were seen together, he saw 2 shadows he presumed were them watching a movie upstairs.  He said he went to bed and never heard anything coming from an upstairs bedroom.  He also told the court he is a heavy sleeper.

In opening arguments, prosecutors laid out a crime scene in the couple's upstairs master bedroom where they found blood spots on baseboards, under carpeting, and on a mattress.  Trevino's attorney says there was less than a thimble of blood found there and that some may not even be human blood.  He also told jurors in his statement that there were no dents in the wall or any broken pieces of furniture that would have signaled a struggle.

The trial is expected to last more than 2 weeks.  The jury is made up of a cross section of Ramsey County with recent college grads and retirees.  They hold a wide range of professions and have varying racial backgrounds.

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