Rios Conviction Overturned
The Missouri Court of Appeals says Steven Rios must have a new trial for the killing of MU student Jesse Valencia. A three judge panel overturned the decision because prosecutors used comments from Valencia about Rios in court that jurors should have never heard.
In court, witnesses said that Valencia talked to friends about Rios, threatening to end their relationship if Rios was married, and to tell police about the affair if Rios would not fix a ticket for him. The defense filed a hearsay objection then, but Judge Ellen Roper overruled it.
The court of appeals determined that the testimony "did not indicate an intent to perform an act in the immediate future and, therefore did not fall within the future acts exception to the hearsay rule." That's necessary for hearsay evidence to be valid testimony and, because prosecutors used the testimony to prove a motive for Rios to commit murder, the judges reversed the conviction.
Rios's attorney Nancy McKerrow refused to go on camera Friday, but she says she's happy with the decision and feels justice has been done. Rios is in prison in Minnesota under an arrangement to protect him.
The ruling gives the state has fifteen days to file for a retrial.