Judge denies former police officer Rios new trial in 2004 murder case

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 | 5:03 p.m. CDT; updated 8:34 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, June 12, 2012

COLUMBIA — Steven Rios has been denied what would have been a third trial for the 2004 murder of MU student Jesse Valencia.

Rios, a former Columbia Police officer, appealed the ruling on the grounds that his previous attorney, Gillis Leonard, denied him effective counsel in his second murder trial in 2008.

In 2005, Rios was convicted of first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the death of 23-year-old Valencia. Rios was sentenced to life without parole but was granted a new trial in 2008.

In his second trial, Rios was convicted of second-degree murder and armed criminal action and was again sentenced to life in prison.

Rios requested a new trial in March 2011. His attorney, Missouri State public defender Ellen Flottman, had no comment.

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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