SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Tuesday marks the second day of a bench trial for a Texas County man accused of killing 17-year-old Joseph Steinfeld Jr. in September 2017.
Andrew Vrba is charged with first-degree murder, accused of stabbing and killing Steinfeld in a trailer home in Cabool.
On Monday, the court heard from the state’s first witnesses, including Steinfeld’s sister and father, and the former Texas County sheriff.
The judge also watched a nearly 2-hour long recorded interview between Vrba and Texas County deputies.
The second day of the trial began with the state playing the second and third interview deputies conducted with Vrba in the days following his arrest.
At the time of the interviews, investigators had already collected evidence at the home in Cabool where Vrba admitted to killing Steinfeld, wrapping the body in a sleeping bag and rope, burning it for more than two days, putting the remains in a plastic bag, and placing the bag in an old chicken coop.
Investigators used the time with Vrba to ask follow up questions after also interviewing Briana Calderas, the homeowner, and Steinfeld’s girlfriend, as well as Isis Schauer, Vrba’s fiancé.
Deputies elude to Calderas claiming Vrba had mutilated Steinfeld’s eyes and genitals after Steinfeld was killed. When asked, Vrba denied all claims, but later admitted to duct-taping Steinfeld’s face.
In the interviews played this morning, Vrba continued to claim Calderas had asked him to kill Steinfeld, claiming she had been raped and her children had been abused.
But later, Vrba told deputies he realized Calderas claims may have been false. Vrba stated in the interviews he now believes Calderas may have been concerned she would get in trouble for having a relationship with the 17-year-old. Calderas was 26 at the time of the murder.
In the videos, deputies further interrogated Vrba about where the remainder of Steinfeld’s bones were located. Vrba, at one point, admitted to crushing some of Steinfeld’s remains but says others involved, as well as dogs, likely spread the remainder of the bones across the Calderas property.
Vrba was forthcoming with information in all three interviews. He also told deputies he felt guilty for killing Steinfeld, had a hard time eating or sleeping, and had gotten sick multiple times in the days and weeks after the killing.
Through Tuesday afternoon, the chief deputy of Texas County also took the stand. He was asked multiple questions regarding whose plan it was to kill Steinfeld, and if he believed Vrba acted in self-defense.
After the state rested around 1:45 p.m., the defense asked the judge for an acquittal, but it was not granted.
The state argued they had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that there was deliberation by Vrba before he acted to kill Steinfeld.
The defense is expected to call its witnesses on Wednesday morning.
The judge took a recess just before 2 p.m. Tuesday.
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.