Former Columbia Police Officer Steven Rios, who was convicted in May 2005 for the murder of MU student Jesse Valencia, will receive a new trial.
The Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals announced its reversal of Riosâ€™ conviction Friday morning. Beth Riggert, spokesperson for the high court, said two hearsay statements entered into evidence during the original trial were used to prove motive. The court of appeals decided that those statements both made by Valencia were not covered by any of the exceptions that allow hearsay to be used as evidence.
Rios was accused of slitting the throat of 23-year-old Valencia in the East Campus neighborhood on June 5, 2004. He was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action.
A Clay County jury found him guilty after nine hours of deliberation. Boone County Circuit Judge Ellen Roper sentenced Rios to life without parole. He appealed in July 2005. The appeals court heard oral arguments one year later.
Special Prosecutor Morley Swingle tried the case because of the relationship between the Boone County prosecutor’s office and Rios in his capacity as a police officer. Swingle could not be reached this morning about the appeals court’s decision.
Article from The Missourian