ON THE DOWNLOW:
Steven Rios (pictured above)
was a married cop with an infant son in the college town of Columbia, Mo.
While on duty, he was dispatched
to investigate noise complaints at an off campus party given by Jesse Valencia,
Rios arrived and arrested
Valencia for mouthing off to police. After Valencia was released, he and Rios
started an affair.
The relationship included
sexual trysts at Valencia’s apartment when Rios was in uniform and was
suppose to be patrolling the neighborhood.
Valencia told friends and
classmates, he suspected his new lover was married and planned to confront him.
He also wanted Rios to fix the ticket from the party and suggested that he would
tell the chief of police of his “little secret” if the ticket wasn’t
Shortly afterwards, Valencia
was found dead on a lawn near campus with his throat slit on June 5, 2004. The
wound was so deep, the medical examiner said, there were knife marks on his
DNA found under the victim’s
fingernails and three hairs pulled from his body were analyzed as the DNA of
officer Steve Rios.
Rios was arrested without
During the trial, Rios acknowledged
the affair but when testifying in his own defense, insisted to jurors that he
was miles away at a party on the police station roof when the killing occurred
and Rios’s lawyer painted the victim as promiscuous and loud-mouthed and
said his many lovers and volatile personality made for a deep pool of better
wife stood by him, she testified in his defense, steadfastly maintaining her
husband’s innocence, screaming out “I love you,” as marshals
escorted her from the courtroom.
Meanwhile, the prosecution
maintained, Rios had given the young man the power to ruin his police career,
his political aspirations and his marriage. Rios also used his badge for sex
and then used his knife to forever close the mouth of his secret lover.
The prosecutor also added,
several women had come forward to police after the murder and said Rios had
hit them up for sex after arresting them.
It was also revealed that
Rios was fired from a job at the Boone County jail for renting a storage space
under another officer’s name.
A jury of nine women and three
men found Rios guilty of first-degree murder which carriers an automatic sentence
of life in prison without parole. Jurors also recommended an additional sentence
of 10 years for the charge of armed criminal action related to Rios use of a
knife in the crime.
More than 20 of Valencia’s
classmates, friends and relatives were in court for the verdict and greeted
it with gasps of relief. His mother, Linda Valencia, fell forward in her seat
and broke down in tears.
After the verdict, Rios looked
down at the defense table and shook his head ruefully. He started crying and
stared longingly toward his wife and 16-month toddler. His wife also began weeping
in the spectator’s gallery.
In addition to his wife, Rios’s
brother, father and in-laws were on hand for the verdict. An attorney for the
Rios family said, his relatives had no comment but wanted the public to know
they still firmly supported him.
Source: Court TV’s Crime