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Trial Begins For Cop Accused Of Killing Gay Studen


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Trial Begins For Cop Accused Of Killing Gay Student

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: May 17, 2005 11:00 am ET

(Columbia, Missouri) A trial began Tuesday for a former Columbia police officer accused of killing a gay University of Missouri student with whom he had an affair.

Steven A. Rios, 27, is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the June, 2004 death of 23 year old Jesse James Valencia (story)

If he is convicted Rios could face a life sentence.

Valencia's body was discovered on the lawn of a home about a block from his apartment near the university campus. An autopsy showed that his throat had been slashed.

The last time anyone saw him was about 3:30 the previous morning as he left a party off campus.

Shortly after the investigation into the killing began friends of Valencia said he was having a secret affair with a police officer.

The friends told homicide investigators that the officer had arrested Valencia on April 18 for interfering with officers responding to a peace disturbance in the area. The friends said that shortly after that the officer started visiting Valencia’s apartment.

Rios was arrested several days later. Under police questioning Rios, who is married, acknowledged having a sexual relationship with Valencia. Investigators said Rios killed Valencia after the student threatened to tell the police chief about the relationship.

Shortly after his arrest Rios was confined to a state mental health facility for his own protection after twice threatening to commit suicide when his affair was made public.

The night of the murder Rios worked that morning until 3 a.m. Part of his beat included the campus area where Valencia's body was found.

Opening arguments began Tuesday after jury selection wrapped up Monday. Because of intense media coverage in the case, jurors were selected from Clay County, north of Kansas City.

Rios appeared alert and interested in the responses of potential jurors as they answered questions from prosecutors and defense attorneys.

©365Gay.com 2005


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