Preliminary hearing scheduled for Rios

Sunday, July 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:30 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Steven Rios, appearing in court for the first time by video link from the Boone County Jail, heard formal charges against him Friday in connection with the death of MU student Jesse Valencia.

Boone County Associate Circuit Judge Christine Carpenter scheduled Rios’ preliminary hearing for charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action for Aug. 27.

Rios, a former Columbia Police officer, did not speak during the hearing. He stood next to defense attorney Rusty Antel, who declined a bond investigation, which means Rios will continue to be held at the Biggs Forensic Center at Fulton State Hospital without bond.

At the preliminary hearing Special Prosecutor Morley Swingle will present evidence against Rios.

Valencia was found dead June 5, with his throat cut. In the week following Valencia’s death, Rios threatened suicide twice after the disclosure of his intimate relationship with Valencia. Rios resigned from the force June 16. On July 1, police arrested him at Fulton State Hospital. In a probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest warrant, a Columbia Police detective said Rios’ DNA was found under Valencia’s fingernails.

Rios has not yet entered a formal plea in the case. First-degree murder is punishable by death or by life in prison without parole. Armed criminal action is punishable by three years to life in prison.

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