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      Former police officer testifies in appeal of murder conviction

      A former Columbia Police Officer testified in court on Wednesday, asking a judge to throw out his life sentence.Steven Rios testified at a hearing at the Boone County Courthouse that his lawyer was ineffective during his re-trial for the murder of 23-year-old Jesse Valencia. Valencia was a Mizzou student at the time of his death.Rios and Valencia were gay lovers. The original conviction was thrown out in 2005 because of hearsay evidence used in trial. Rios was convicted a second time that same year, but of 2nd degree murder.Rios claimed that his lawyer should have let him testify during the second trial. Special Prosecutor Morley Swingle said it would not have made a difference."I pointed out, you testified in the first trial, didn't you? He said, yes. I said, you looked the jury in the eye and told the jury that you did not kill Jesse Valencia," Morley said. "He said, yes. I said, and all twelve jurors did not believe you and found you guilty. He said, yes. I said, in your second trial where you did not testify, you were only found guilty of second degree murder. Isn't that true? He said, yes. My point is that things did not go so well when he did testify."A judge will rule on the appeal on April 12. Currently, Rios could be eligible for parole in less than 30 years. He is currently housed in a South Dakota prison.