HOUSTON, Missouri- Authorities in Texas County say they can’t charge the three suspects arrested in the death of a transgender teach with the enhanced Hate Crime provision because under Missouri law.
The Texas County prosecutor explains that in Missouri, as the laws passed by the legislature, “Hate” offenses are defined by section 557.035RSMo. “Hate” offenses are acts “knowingly motivated because of race, color, religion, nationalorigin, sex, sexual orientation, or disability” and are applicable only to the following offenses:
Assault in the third degree, 565.054 RSMo, Harassment in the first degree, 565.090 RSMo,
Property Damage in the first degree, 569.100 RSMo, Unlawful use of a weapon, 571.030 RSMo,
Assault in the fourth degree, 565.056 RSMo, Tampering in the second degree, 569.090 RSMo,
Property Damage in the second degree, 569.120 RSMo, Trespass in the first degree, 569.140
RSMo, and Rioting, 574.050 RSMo.
The provision for it being a Hate Crime does not exist under the provisions of 557.035 RSMo for Murder in the First
Degree, Armed Criminal Action, Abandonment of a Corpse, or Tampering with Physical
Evidence. Thus no formal charges under section 557.035 RSMo have been filed.
Briana Calderas, 24, and Isis Schauer, 18, admitted to authorities that they helped burn Steinfeld’s body after Andrew Vrba, 18, gouged out the victim’s eyes and repeatedly stabbed the teen multiple times in the genitals, this according to court records. Documents allege they then bragged about the slaying on social media. Vrba said he had first tried to poison Steinfeld.
They have been charged with Murder in the First Degree, pursuant to section 565.020 RSMo, Armed Criminal Action, pursuant
to section 571.015 RSMo, Abandonment of a Corpse, pursuant to section 194.425 RSMo, and
Tampering with physical evidence, pursuant to section 575.100 RSMo. Each charge carries a
separate range of punishment with the highest being the death penalty or life imprisonment
without eligibility for probation or parole. This punishment is the highest and most severe form
of punishment available in the State of Missouri, the prosecutor said.
The gruesome crime was committed in a mobile home on Malberg Road in southern Texas County and Calderas, Shaue, and Vrba are charged with with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse.
A fourth subject, James Thomas Gribsby, 25, of Thayer, was also charged in connection to the crime with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Steinfeld had been missing for two weeks. The Houston Herald says Facebook messages between Schauer and Vrba gave officers a break in the teen’s death, which apparently occurred Sept. 3rd just six days before Steinfeld’s 18th birthday.
An investigation continues.
See the statement here: Texas County