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Alleged killer on trial

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A man accused of the 2017 killing of a transgender teen whose body was set on fire in southwest Missouri told law enforcement officers that he tried to make the death quick and painless, a prosecutor said in an opening statement Monday.

Andrew Vrba, 21, is charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse in the killing of 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld.

Neither side disputed in their opening remarks at a bench trial that began Monday that Vrba killed Steinfeld. The prosecution contends the killing was premeditated, while the defense countered that it was not premeditated.

Vrba had been missing for weeks when her burned remains were found in September 2017 in the town of Cabool, about 70 miles east of Springfield, Missouri. Authorities say the crime wasn’t motivated by Steinfeld’s gender identity.

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