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Defense highlights childhood in trial of man accused of killing transgender teenager in Texas County

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 12:03 PM CDT
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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 Vrba’s last two video interviews with Texas County law enforcement. Today, the defense began by calling some of Vrba’s high school teachers. Vrba’s 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 Vrba’s 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.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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