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Associated Press, Published September 25 2013

Medical examiner says Minnesota woman may have been smothered

ST. PAUL — A St. Paul woman whose body was found in the Mississippi River more than two months after she disappeared may have been smothered, a medical examiner testified Wednesday at the murder trial of the woman's husband.

The Ramsey County medical examiner, Dr. Michael McGee, testified that 30-year-old Kira Steger died of homicidal violence, and that she suffered injuries indicating she could have been smothered, possibly by someone's hand.

Steger's husband, Jeffery Trevino, 39, is on trial on two counts of second-degree murder in her death. Steger was last seen alive on Feb. 21, and her body was recovered from the river in May.

Steger's body was in a state of "advanced decomposition," and the skin on her palms and hands had sloughed off, McGee testified.

"You can tell she's been in the water for a while," he said.

Under cross-examination by the defense, McGee testified that Steger's body could have been in the water for a couple of weeks to a couple of months.

Prosecutors are trying to pin Steger's time of death to sometime between midnight and 2 a.m. Feb. 22 based on food that was found in her stomach, the Star Tribune (http://bit.ly/15uBZa2 ) reported. She and Trevino had a date night at the Mall of America on Feb. 21, and she had texted the man she was having an affair with at 11:44 p.m. She ate sushi that tests will show remained in her stomach, prosecutor Andrew Johnson told jurors last week during opening statements.

McGee testified that Steger was cut with a sharp blade above her left eyebrow and likely was alive when she was cut. Her left index finger was also cleanly broken between the knuckle and the lower finger joint, he said.

"The fracture is complete," McGee said, adding that it likely occurred during a struggle.

Steger's mother, Marcie Steger, turned her head away from the projection screen as multiple autopsy photos of her daughter were presented in court.

Prosecutors contend Trevino killed Steger because she was having an affair with a co-worker and wanted a divorce. Trevino's attorney, John Conard, believes there are too many holes and unanswered questions with the prosecution's forensic evidence.

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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