Is Justice or Vengeance being served?
There is no doubt that the murder of Kira Trevino was a tragedy. A beautiful young woman is dead and a young man will spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors have a saying, “there are no winners in a murder case,” and certainly there are no winners in the Trevino case. According to St. Paul police, Kira Trevino was killed by her husband in the home they shared. In an effort to cover up what he had done, Jeffrey Trevino dumped her body in the Mississippi River and proceeded to tell anyone who would listen that she was missing.
But as Shakespeare’s Launcelot said in Measure for Measure, “at length the truth will out.” And yet, in this case what actually happened on that fateful night died with Kira Trevino. Did Jeffrey kill her because she was having an affair? Making this a crime of passion or did he carefully plan her death? Making this a case of pre-mediated murder. The reality is that even the jury appeared to have some unanswered questions, because in the end they handed down a verdict of second-degree unintentional murder. And they further acquitted Jeffrey Trevino of the second-degree intentional murder charges. This means that Trevino could serve a maximum of 10.5 years.
This fact has not sat well with the Steger family who have been making headlines this Thanksgiving weekend due to their emotional appeals for a much stricter sentencing for Jeffrey Trevino to the tune of 30 years. Trevino’s defense attorney has argued that this is “a lot more than the law allows.” The Steger’s position was made clear by Kira’s sister who was reported as saying, “This monster is a calculated criminal. He deserves no mercy.”
It goes without saying that Steger family deserves justice for the murder of their daughter at the hands of their son-in-law, but is their quest for a longer sentence vengeance or justice? United States judges are supposed to hand down sentences without passion or prejudice, in other words, they are meant to exercise their authority within the limits of the Constitution and the laws of their respective states. So, handing down a sentence of 27.5 years based not on the verdict handed down by the jury, but instead on the emotional appeals of the family sets a concerning precedence.
What if Kira Steger’s family was not stable? What if she came from a family where several members had spent time in jail? Would her killer get the same sentence? What if Kira Steger and Jeffrey Trevino weren’t white? Would there be such a public outrage over her murder? Again, if this tragedy occurred in a poor, uneducated, or even diverse family would there be this much media attention? And furthermore, would there be this much public outrage?
So, once again the privileged white classes in America are given a different type of justice, where vengeance carries more weight than following the letter of the law. Jeffrey Trevino should have been sentenced, but he should have been sentenced according to what the law allows, not according to how much vengeance her privileged white family wants to exact on her killer. And in the Trevino case it is certainly hard to tell, “where justice leaves off and vengeance begins.” Perhaps, the Steger family will find themselves years from now bitterly considering whether or not they should have traded vengeance for mercy.