Murder trial begins in horrific killing of a transgender teen who had her eyes gouged out and her body set on fire
The trial of a man accused of the brutal murder and mutilation of trans teenager Ally Steinfeld began today (August 3) in Texas County, Missouri.
Andrew Vrba is one of four people charged in connection with the horrific killing of 17-year-old Steinfeld in 2017.
The other three suspects have pleaded guilty and are currently in prison.
Vrba has been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse in the ongoing case, according to Associated Press.
He has opted for a bench trial instead of a jury, according to local media reports.
Texas County prosecutor Parke Stevens said that Vrba was originally facing the death penalty, but said that had been taken off the table on the wishes of Steinfeld’s family.
The accused allegedly attempted to poison Steinfeld, but when she wouldn’t drink the mixture he gave her, he stabbed her.
Steinfeld – who was from Texas County, Missouri –was found dead near a mobile home belonging to Briana Calderas weeks after she disappeared.
Vrba reportedly told police following his initial arrest that he stabbed Steinfeld, gouged out her eyes and stabbed her in the genitals.
He claimed that he and Calderas bought items in a local Walmart to cover up the killing.
The pair reportedly burned Steinfeld’s body outside and hid her remains in a chicken coop.
The mother of trans teenager Ally Steinfeld branded the killing ‘pure hatred and pure evil’.
Calderas, Isis Schauer and James T Grigsby have also been charged in connection with Steinfeld’s death.
Shortly after the death, Vrba reportedly messaged Schauer on Facebook and told her to “stick to the story” and “quit talking”.
Steinfeld’s brutal murder made her the 21st known trans person killed in the United States in 2017, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
All I can remember is laying down – I miss cuddling with her, at that age when she would cuddle with me.
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Despite the sadistic nature of her killing, authorities have insisted that it was not a hate crime and that she was not targeted because of her gender identity.
Steinfeld had come out as trans just four months before she died.
Her mother, Amber Steinfeld, later called the killing “pure hatred and pure evil”.
“All I can remember is laying down – I miss cuddling with her, at that age when she would cuddle with me,” she said.