Murder Conviction Upheld

The Missouri Court of Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of a former Columbia police officer in the 2004 killing of a college student with whom he had an affair.

Steven Rios was convicted in 2009 of second-degree murder for the throat-slashing death of Jesse Valencia, a 23-year-old University of Missouri student. Prosecutors said Rios – a husband and father – killed the young man to keep him from disclosing the affair. In its ruling Tuesday, a panel of the Appeals Court’s Western District rejected Rios’s claim that his trial lawyer was ineffective. Rios argued his lawyer refused to let him testify at the trial and erred in failing to call or sufficiently cross-examine several witnesses, including a reporter for the Columbia Daily Tribune. Rios is serving a life sentence.