Trevino pleads not guilty at cause hearing

Jeff Trevino

Police tell searchers to use caution on thinning Keller Lake ice

Johanna Holub and Patrick Larkin
Review staff

At an omnibus probable cause hearing Friday, March 29, Jeffery Trevino, 39, of St. Paul maintained his innocence on two counts of second-degree murder. Trevino is charged with killing his wife, Kira Trevino, 30.

Through his attorney, John Conard, Trevino entered a not-guilty plea and also a demand for a speedy trial.

Ramsey County District Court Judge Gregg Johnson stated that there was sufficient evidence for probable cause to move forward with a trial. He said no trial date has been set at this point.

Trevino, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, stood with a steady calm as his attorney spoke. Conard told the judge it was "literally impossible" to look at the validity of the criminal complaints, citing a lack of documents.

Conard asked that all evidence and test results be shared with the defense team.

After the hearing, a friend, Nikki Engel, 30, spoke on behalf of the missing woman's family.

"Obviously, everybody wants it to be done," she said, adding that they were hoping Jeffery Trevino would have entered a guilty plea. Kira's family members are ready "for justice to be served appropriately," she said.

Engel also spoke of the family's anguish and the time they've spent in the car, driving between St. Paul and the Wausau, Wis., area, thinking about Kira and all the legal proceedings to come. Kira Trevino grew up in central Wisconsin and was living with her husband on the East Side of St. Paul.

Currently, Jeffery Trevino is sitting in jail, unable to post a $1 million bond. Even though a body has not yet been located, investigators found enough blood in the Trevinos' home to presume she was murdered.

Jeffery Trevino reported his wife missing on Feb. 24. She was last seen in the evening on Feb. 21. So far, the search has centered on Keller Lake and surrounding parkland in Maplewood; the lake is just over two miles from the Trevinos' home on the East Side.

According to the county attorney, the park became a focus of the search after a woman tipped off police that she saw two men walking on the lake in the early morning on Feb. 22, not long after Kira Trevino was last seen. The individuals were struggling with a wrapped object that appeared to be roughly the size of a body.

Police cordoned off access to the lake on March 19, searching the area with cadaver dogs and divers after a bloody pillow was discovered in a plastic bag found in the park during an earlier volunteer search.

On March 22, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office reported that the bag also contained a pillowcase, sports bra, shirt and sponge.

The attorney's office reported DNA analysis of the blood on the pillow matches Kira Trevino's DNA profile.

On March 25 and 26, law enforcement officials bored more than 50 holes into the ice at Keller Lake. The holes were drilled about 80 feet apart from each other, and were drilled in the hopes that cadaver dogs could pick up scents of human remains in specific areas of the lake.

At times, up to 150 volunteers continued their unofficial investigation at the lake. Some used underwater cameras in the holes bored in the ice.

Worries about volunteers' safety

Maplewood acting police chief Dave Kvam is advising the volunteer searchers to approach the lake "with caution," since recent warmer weather could have melted parts of the ice.

In an email to the Review, Kvam advised searchers to take appropriate measures when walking on Keller Lake.

"It is...advisable to consider what to do if one should actually fall in. There are commercially produced spikes which can help a person pull him or herself out of the water should they go through," Kvam wrote. "It is also a good idea to have a partner, and to keep some space between the two of you.

"If one person goes in the other may be able to aid the rescue, but probably not if you both end up in the water."

Back on March 27 police set up sonar equipment after the dogs indicated two spots on the lake. If these search measures necessitate further investigation, police said divers will be called to the scene.

Police also searched a nearby Maplewood creek March 25, after volunteer searchers located multiple pieces of possible evidence in the Keller Lake area.

St. Paul police spokesman Paul Paulos stated that a jacket had been found on the banks of the creek, but it could not yet be determined if it pertains to the Trevino case.

Patrick Larkin contributed to this report.
Johanna Holub can be reached at or 651-748-7814.

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