Rios to head back to Boone County

Tuesday, November 6, 2007 | 1:21 p.m. CST; updated 4:59 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In preparation for his new murder trial, the Missouri Department of Corrections is planning to return former Columbia police Officer Steven Rios to the Boone County Jail from a Minnesota prison where he has been held for his protection since February 2006.

Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey said that the jail has a plan to protect Rios: He will get his own jail cell.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to segregate him from the other population,” Carey said.

In April, the Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ordered a new trial for Rios, who was convicted in 2005 of murdering 23-year-old MU student Jesse Valencia. The appeals court said two hearsay statements were wrongly admitted. Last week, the state Supreme Court refused to hear the state’s appeal of the decision.

The Department of Corrections received a mandate from the appeals court on Monday to return Rios to the jail.

Rios, 30, was moved last year to an out-of-state prison for his protection because he is a former police officer, said Department of Corrections spokesman Brian Hauswirth. A receptionist at the Minnesota Corrections Facility-Stillwater in Bayport, Minn., confirmed Tuesday that Rios was still an inmate there.

Hauswirth said arrangements were being made to return Rios, though he could not say when Rios will arrive at the jail.

Carey said Capt. Warren Brewer, the jail’s administrator, could provide further details about the protection plan, but Brewer was unavailable Tuesday afternoon.

Valencia was found in June 2004 near his East Campus apartment with his throat slashed. Rios, who was married at the time, was having an affair with Valencia, according to court testimony.

Cape Girardeau Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle, the special prosecutor in the case, said he expects the new trial to start in early 2008.

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