Category Archives: True Crime

Justice or Vengeance?

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.

  missing poster    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.”

Steger   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.

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A Murder of Indifference

Being a doctor has never been an easy profession in America, but now it is becoming a deadly one. Doctors are often sued or reprimanded by their respective boards for minor infractions that often have more to do with a doctor’s personality than his/her professional care. Doctors are required to carry millions of dollars in liability insurance for this very reason, because sometimes it is easier to pay the patient than it is to fight false allegations. Yet, in the homicide of Dr. Stephen Larson there appear to be many unanswered questions.

For instance, why would Ted Hoffstrom (a lawyer who has worked within the system at different points in his life) choose to kill Dr. Larson; instead of taking the legal recourse available for the way he felt about Larson’s care of his mother’s medical condition? Was Hoffstrom unstable or being treated for depression? Had he tried to speak to his mother’s doctor and been turned away? Why was he angry about her medical treatment? Did he feel more should have been or could have been done? And, of course, the question on many minds: Did Dr. Larson do all that he could for Hoffstrom’s mother? These questions will most likely not be answered as both the Larson and Hoffstrom families have refused to comment on Larson’s murder and Hoffstrom’s “suicide-by-cop”.

Clearly, Hoffstrom had an untreated obsession with both his mother’s doctor and her condition. One can speculate and infer the following: Hoffman loved his mother deeply. This love for her led to his becoming obsessed to the point of a fixation with her doctor. This developed over time into a dangerous delusion that told Hoffstrom the only way for his mother to get better was for her doctor to be removed from the situation permanently. Perhaps, Hoffstrom could have been helped had he reached out to his community in regard to his mother’s condition or if the community had reached out to them.

There has been a community response in the aftermath of this murder-suicide. According to The Star Tribune, Larson’s clinic saw, “patients bringing in flowers and baked goods and cards and really sharing their sympathy with us.” While this outpouring is good to see, where was the community outpouring for a sick woman and her troubled son? Did anyone reach out and bring them a meal, offer a listening ear, or even prayers for healing? Or were we as a society too busy to care? The Larson murder and Hoffstrom suicide bring to light many issues communities can no longer ignore: the plight of the sick and dying, the mental stability of our citizens, and our indifference to both our Creator God and one another.

Our self-centered indifference to the lives of others has led to more and more violent acts being committed against both the powerful and the powerless in our society. Could this tragedy have been avoided if someone would have just taken the time to reach out to Hoffstrom and his family during this time of physical, mental, and spiritual illness? In the wake of this tragedy, this question will remain unanswered however it certainly one worth asking

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