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Andrew Vrba Sentenced to LWOP in 2017 MO Murder of Joseph M. Steinfeld - Page 3
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Thread: Andrew Vrba Sentenced to LWOP in 2017 MO Murder of Joseph M. Steinfeld

  1. #21
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    Defense highlights childhood in trial of man accused of killing transgender teenager in Texas County

    By Linda Simmons
    KY3 News

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Defense attorneys called witnesses Wednesday in the trial for Andrew Vrba, accused of killing a transgender teenager in Texas County. The case is in its third day in a Greene County courtroom.

    Andrew Vrba is accused of killing a transgender Houston teen, Ally (Joey) Steinfeld, nearly three years ago.

    The prosecution rested its case Tuesday, playing Vrbas last two video interviews with Texas County law enforcement. Today, the defense began by calling some of Vrbas high school teachers. Vrbas high school counselor testified about him having an individual education plan and struggling in school. She and his English teacher, who was assigned as a mentor for Vrba, both said Vrba was very quiet, not a trouble maker, at school every day, and did graduate. Neither had any concerns in high school about his behavior or saw him as violent. The counselor also testified Vrba came to her questioning his sexuality, and the prosecutor inferred that people talking about him could have been very traumatic and changed him.

    The defense a called a licensed clinical psychologist who evaluated Vrba and went over his health records, including his ADHD diagnosis at five-years-old. The defense mentioned a child abuse investigation in Vrbas childhood. The psychologist testified about how past traumatic experiences could cause changes in the brain leading someone to react differently to other threats. She said she was struck by the way Vrba spoke so matter-of-factly without emotion, even about traumatic things. She also found he has poor non-verbal skills and seems to avoid negative emotions.

    On another note, the judge had the courtroom sanitized Wednesday monring after learning someone at the trial the last two days had been in direct contact with a COVID-19 case. He said that person is now in quarantine.

    https://www.ky3.com/2020/08/05/defen...-texas-county/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  2. #22
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    DAY 4: Closing arguments in the Andrew Vrba murder trial

    By Bailey Strohl
    Ozarks First

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. The murder trial for a Texas County man accused of killing a 17-year-old in September 2017 has wrapped up in a Greene County courtroom on Thursday, August 6th.

    21-year-old Andrew Vrba, is accused of stabbing and killing Joseph Steinfeld in 2017.

    This was the fourth day of Vrbas bench trial. If found guilty of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    The day began with a few motions presented by the defense, asking the judge to spare Vrba the possibility of life without parole by lessening the charge from first-degree murder to second-degree murder.

    Judge Calvin Holden did not rule on the motions but said he would take the information into account when making his decision.

    Then came closing arguments from the side of the State, claiming Vrba has never told the entire story of what happened the day of the murder or the real reasoning for it.

    Attorney Kevin Zoellner argues Vrba deliberated about the murder before he acted, and has since lied and changed his story several times.

    Closing arguments for the defense claim Vrba acted out of anger or fear without contemplating the murder beforehand.

    Vrbas public defender Tom Jacquinot asks the judge to take into a count Vrbas mental health issues, learning disabilities, and his mental state at the time.

    The defense claims they have proved there is reasonable doubt as to whether Vrba was sure of his intentions before stabbing Steinfeld.

    Judge Holden did got give the court a date or timeline of when he might have a verdict. Depending on that verdict, Judge Holden could set another date for Vrbas sentencing.

    KOLR 10 News spoke with the victims sister, Ashleigh Boswell, following the trial.

    She says its been devastating for her family to never feel like they have closure for Steinfelds murder.

    Weve been wanting to get answers on why he has done it, whats going on, are we finally going to get answers, and it seems like, through these two days, we havent got our answer on why.

    She says she hopes Vrba is sentenced to life without parole.

    He deserves to rot in prison. He deserves it. He has done something that if someone can have the (sense) to murder someone, they deserve the punishment that he deserves to rot in hell and deserves to rot in prison.Boswell says her little brother was a kind, sweet person, whos life was taken away too soon.

    They keep saying he gets nightmares, well I hope he keeps having those nightmares because he took away not just my brother, but he took away my best friend.

    https://www.ozarksfirst.com/local-ne...-murder-trial/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  3. #23
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    Testimony ends in case against Andrew Vrba, accused of killing transgender teen in Texas County

    By KY3 News Staff

    SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A judge is deliberating the fate of a Texas County man, accused of killing a transgender teenager.

    Closing arguments wrapped up in the trial of Andrew Vrba, accused of killing Ally (Joey) Steinfeld.

    Day 4 began with the judge requesting to ask Vrba if he understood all his rights. But the defense said he would not be answering any questions. The defense also asked the judge to throw out murder in the first degree and amend the charge to second-degree because of Vrbas disability and his age of just a few months over 18 at the time. The judge will rule on that with his verdict.

    The defense also argued investigators acted in bad faith, destroying notes and losing documents and cell phones. Prosecutors admit cell phones were lost, but that they were honest mistakes and notes are routinely destroyed. The defense argues Vrba never had an idea of using a knife until Steinfeld waved it in front of him. They say Vrba didnt believe Calderas accusation, saying Steinfeld raped her, and he wasnt going act on her behalf. They accused the state of changing timelines and say that because of Vrbas severe nonverbal learning disorder and his character evidence, he was not capable of sophisticated deceit or cool reflection.

    The prosecution argued although Vrba confessed to the killing, he hasnt told the full truth, but continually shifted his stories about how exactly he stabbed Steinfeld and why. They reminded the court that Vrba and Briana Calderas discussed ways to poison Steinfeld and Vrba searched the internet for fast ways to kill someone. Vrba also texted Calderas, telling her it was done.

    The defense asks for mercy, and the state asks for justice.

    During closing arguments, the defense asked for Steinfelds father to be removed for vocally interrupting. The judge gave a final warning and Mr. Steinfeld left the courtroom a few minutes later. The judge is taking the case under advisement.

    https://www.ky3.com/2020/08/06/trial...-texas-county/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  4. #24
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    Ally Steinfeld murder case: Judge finds Andrew Vrba guilty of first-degree murder

    By Jackie Rehwald
    Springfield News Leader

    Three weeks after taking the case into consideration, a Greene County judge found the fourth and final co-defendant guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the killing of a transgender teen in Texas County.

    Andrew Vrba previously had confessed to stabbing 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld on Sept. 20, 2017, in Texas County, six days after Steinfeld's family reported the teen missing and before law enforcement realized Steinfeld was dead.

    Vrba, now 21, was charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse for his alleged role in Steinfeld’s murder.

    Vrba, by his own admission, was the one who wielded the knife. Three other co-defendants have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for their roles in disposing of and hiding Steinfeld's remains.

    Question in the trial: Was Steinfeld's murder premeditated?

    At question in Vrba's trial was not whether or not he killed Steinfeld, but rather if the murder was premeditated, the difference between first- and second-degree murder.

    His defense team maintained that Vrba's reason for stabbing Steinfeld never changed when he talked to investigators: that Steinfeld had said threatening things about Vrba's pregnant girlfriend and unborn child.

    The prosecution argued that Vrba changed his story multiple times, that the murder was premeditated and that Vrba had tried to poison Steinfeld but Steinfeld wouldn't drink the poison

    The story garnered worldwide media attention due in part to information made public by law enforcement in 2017. But contrary to information in the Texas County Sheriff’s Office’s original probable cause statement, there was no evidence — other than statements made by one of the co-defendants — that Vrba gouged out Steinfield’s eyes or mutilated her genitals.

    According to Vrba’s attorney Tom Jacquinot, the detective who wrote the probable cause statement testified in a deposition that Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens insisted those statements be included in the probable cause statement.

    Vrba to be sentenced in November

    Before announcing his decision Friday morning, Judge Calvin Holden made clear that there was no evidence presented at trial that Steinfeld was tortured or mutilated or that Steinfeld's gender identity had anything to do with the killing.

    Holden also detailed why he believed Vrba's actions were premeditated.

    "As soon as the murder was completed and the victim was deceased, the defendant sent a text message to the victim's girlfriend to tell her it was done, meaning the death of the victim," Holden said.

    "The defendant engaged in several actions prior to the day of the murder and the day of the murder that showed premeditation," Holden said. "The defendant talked with the victim's girlfriend. The defendant tried to use pills and alcohol on the victim and in fact looked up on the internet how to make the death quick and painless. The internet search indicates the defendant had the mental capacity to premeditate and reflect on his actions."

    Vrba's case was originally assigned to a Crawford County court, but that judge was defeated in his re-election bid. The case was then moved to Greene County and assigned to Holden. Vrba opted for a bench trial a few months ago in a deal with prosecutors, who agreed not to seek the death penalty.

    Vrba's sentencing is set for Nov. 20.

    At the end of the trial, the defense filed a motion for sanctions due to a lack of "good faith" in complying with court orders to preserve evidence and to preserve all law enforcement notes. According to the motion, the Texas County Sheriff's Office lost or destroyed evidence, including cellphones belonging to the co-defendants and some of the lead officer's notes from his investigation.

    The motion also said that Prosecutor Parke Stevens failed to comply with court orders that required the state to preserve all evidence and to preserve all investigatory notes. Holden overruled that motion at Friday's hearing.

    Steinfeld was referred to by her birth name in court and throughout court documents. But according to Steinfeld's public Facebook and Instagram accounts, she was a transgender woman and had transitioned to using the name Ally Lee Steinfeld before her death. Steinfeld had also talked to her family about being transgender, her sister told the News-Leader in 2017.

    Judge takes issue with Greene County jail

    Prior to giving his decision, Holden took issue with how Greene County jail handled Friday's hearing.

    Due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the jail, inmates are no longer brought into the courthouse.

    Vrba and his defense attorneys were to participate in the hearing virtually from the jail. But there was only one phone in the room where Vrba was seated with his two attorneys — so only Vrba would be able to hear what the judge said and not his attorneys.

    "All three have to be able to hear," Holden said, upon realizing the situation. "This is not acceptable."

    "We spent days to work this out and they didn't have the forethought to know all three of you would need to hear," Holden said. "I would have thought they'd put you in a room with a speaker phone."

    Holden told the deputies standing behind Vrba and the attorneys to let one of the attorneys have a cell phone so the trio could participate by speaker phone. The deputy said that wouldn't be allowed.

    "Then you better get the sheriff on the phone," Holden said, frustrated.

    Holden then went into his quarters for a few minutes. During that time, the deputies questioned one of Vrba's attorneys, asking if she had her cellphone. The whole scene was playing out on Facebook Live and the deputies wanted to know why, explained Prosecutor Parke Stevens, who was participating via Webex from his office in Texas County.

    Several minutes later, Holden returned to the courtroom and announced he has the authority to order Vrba be brought to the courtroom and would do so.

    "It's a shame that we have the worst jail in Missouri," the judge said.

    Vrba and his attorneys soon arrived in the courtroom, and the hearing took place.

    https://www.news-leader.com/story/ne...er/3407733001/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

  5. #25
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    Edited:

    Texas County man sentenced to life for 2017 murder of transgender teen

    By Jackie Rehwald
    Springfield News Leader

    A Texas County man was sentenced to life without parole for the 2017 murder of a transgender teen.

    Andrew Vrba, now 21, was sentenced Friday in Greene County Judge Calvin Holden's courtroom.

    Vrba is the fourth and final co-defendant found guilty in the killing of 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld.

    Vrba previously had confessed to stabbing Steinfeld on Sept. 20 2017, in Texas County, six days after Steinfeld's family reported the teen missing and before law enforcement realized Steinfeld was dead.

    Vrba was found guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in a bench trial in August.

    Steinfeld was referred to by her birth name and as a male in court and throughout court documents. But according to Steinfeld's public Facebook and Instagram accounts, she was a transgender woman and had transitioned to using the name Ally Lee Steinfeld before her death. Steinfeld had also talked to her family about being transgender, her sister told the News-Leader in 2017.

    Steinfeld's family participated in the hearing via video conference.

    In her victim's impact statement at the sentencing hearing, Steinfeld's mom Amber Boswell sobbed.

    "My son said that (Vrba) was the only best guy friend he ever had," Boswell said. "I miss my son every day."

    Vrba, wearing jailhouse scrubs, appeared to be watching the video screen intently.

    "It turned my whole world into a pure nightmare," Boswell said. "My son was so nice and innocent. He didn't have a mean bone in his body."

    Vrba's mother Ozell Spicer was in the courtroom and also addressed the judge.

    "I loved this boy since before he was born," Spicer said. "I'll always love him. I'll always support him."

    "I wake up every day this is a nightmare. I wish it never happened," Spicer said. "I am so sorry to (Steinfeld's) family. I know he did nothing to deserve it."

    For the first time since his trial began, Vrba addressed the court. He spoke to Steinfeld's family.

    "There is no amount of times I could say sorry," Vrba said. "I loved him as a brother."

    "I regret it every day," he said. "I promise you I'm sorry."

    Vrba was accompanied in court Friday by his attorneys Tom Jacquinot with the Capital Division of Missouri State Public Defenders, and Devon Pasley.

    Prior to Holden handing down the sentence, Jacquinot called psychologist Dr. Lauren Richerson to testify about brain development and Vrba's ADHD diagnosis.

    Richerson explained that a person's brain is not fully developed until the age of 24.

    The prefrontal cortex which controls judgement and decision making is the last part of the brain to develop, Richerson said.

    Asked if she believes an 18-year-old criminal offender presents "a greater potential for rehabilitation than an adult at 24 with a fully developed brain," Richerson said yes.

    Education would have more impact on the 18-year-old, she said.

    Vrba was 18 when Steinfeld was killed.

    Richerson testified that Vrba is diagnosed with ADHD and that "impulsivity is a hallmark of ADHD."

    Jacquinot asked Richerson if she saw evidence of Vrba's disability and "impulsivity" in the interrogation tapes.

    "Yes. I do not recall instances of calm deliberate responding," she said. "This is speculation, but it appears to me he wanted approval, social approval."

    Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens asked Richerson how much the defense has paid her.

    About $10,000, she said.

    Jacquinot asked Holden to rule that a life sentence without parole for Vrba is a violation of the Eighth Amendment (the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause).

    "The punishment is disproportionate and fundamentally unfair," Jacquinot said. "It is an extreme punishment."

    Stevens reminded Holden that the mandatory sentence for first-degree murder was created by the Missouri legislature and upheld by the Missouri Supreme Court.

    "I don't like the statute," Holden said. "In the end, you follow the law."

    "The statute is there. I don't agree with it," Holden said. "I know this sentence is disproportionate, but it is the sentence set down by the statute."

    Holden later addressed Steinfeld's family regarding what he said about the mandatory sentencing statute.

    "I don't want you to think I downplay what happened to your son," Holden said. "It was a terrible thing."

    Vrba, by his own admission, was the one who wielded the knife.

    At question in Vrba's trial was not whether he killed Steinfeld, but rather if the murder was premeditated the difference between first- and second-degree murder.

    The death penalty was taken off the table when Vrba agreed to a bench trial. Prosecutor Parke Stevens said that was also at the request of Steinfeld's family.

    The story garnered worldwide media attention, due in part to information made public by law enforcement in 2017. But contrary to information in the Texas County Sheriffs Offices original probable cause statement, there was no evidence other than statements made by one of the co-defendants that Vrba gouged out Steinfields eyes or mutilated her genitals.

    According to Jacquinot, the detective who wrote the probable cause statement testified in a deposition that Stevens insisted those statements be included in the probable cause statement.

    https://www.news-leader.com/story/ne...en/6355776002/
    "I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don't care if it's by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions."
    - Oklahoma Rep. Mike Christian

    "There are some people who just do not deserve to live,"
    - Rev. Richard Hawke

    "Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence"
    - Edgar Allan Poe

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