Steele's job can be nerve-racking, especially when it comes to death-penalty cases. But he just might be the right person for it, say family, colleagues, and friends.
"Integrity is everything," said his wife, Tracy Steele. "He's a do-the-right-thing kind of guy."
District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, Steele's boss, pointed to a recent case that Steele was working with a particular county detective.
"The detective was also working a serious, violent-crime investigation at night which was taking a toll on his family. The detective had a teenager who was having a very difficult time with the father's constant absence, and Kevin knew it.
"At the end of the case, Kevin called the detective when he knew the teen was with him. Kevin asked to speak with the child and proudly reported what an exceptional job dad had done protecting our community. Kevin told the teen to be proud of the father's accomplishments.
"The detective saw the smile on his child's face and knew how much that small gesture meant."
Steele, 46, has been a prosecutor since graduating from Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law in 1992.
His first job was with the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office. He joined the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office in 1995.
Ed Marsico, now the Dauphin County district attorney, was an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County and Steele's former supervisor.
Even though he was good, he always wanted to get better, Marsico said.
Marsico remembers pegging Steele as a talented lawyer who would thoroughly prepare for a trial and was not afraid to use new technology to help make his case.
He shows the same competitiveness outside the courtroom, participating in triathlons and charity bike rides. He's on numerous nonprofit organization boards and is vice president of the Penn State Alumni Association.
He has coached his children's basketball and softball teams, though work calling him away unexpectedly during vacations or holidays has become part of the family's routine.
Ferman made him her first assistant district attorney when she rose to the top spot in 2008. The first assistant is the office's second-in-command and runs day-to-day operations.
She was impressed by his attention to detail, which she knew would serve him well in trials and in overseeing daily functions and the office's 145 employees. Ferman likens the district attorney to the chief executive officer of a company, and the first assistant district attorney to the chief operating officer.
Another of Steele's characteristics was apparent from the beginning. Like a clergyman tending his flock, Steele helps shepherd crime victims through legal proceedings.
During a sentencing hearing last month, Steele was extremely protective of parents who had lost their children in a car crash caused by a driver high on synthetic marijuana.
The parents were in the courtroom to make tearful impact statements.
During the capital case in Adams County, Steele grew close to the victim's family, Wagner said.
In November 2010, Grove stopped two men in a car near Gettysburg for poaching deer. One of the men, Christopher L. Johnson, was illegally armed since he was a convicted felon barred from owning guns. When Grove pulled the car over, Johnson told his friend that he was not going to go back to jail.
Johnson fired his handgun 15 times, reloading it once, killing Grove.
It was the first time in 95 years that a wildlife officer had been killed in the line of duty and the first time in more than 100 years that any law-enforcement officer had been killed in Adams County.
Steele began working on the case in 2011, after he and Ferman, who knew Wagner, offered to help. Ferman told Steele to go to Adams County on work time. Steele insisted on using vacation.
Steele had much more experience than Wagner in trying capital cases. Steele, and others from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office, including a ballistics expert, contributed to preparations and the trial.
Appointed as a special assistant district attorney in Adams County, Steele made the prosecution's opening statement in the trial phase and the closing argument in the penalty phase.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court received the appeal in Johnson's case last week, said Adams County Chief Public Defender Kristin Rice, who was one of Johnson's attorneys.
Tracy Steele says she was not surprised that her husband would volunteer and take vacation time to help with a death-penalty case hours away from home.
"He feels very responsible for making sure justice occurs when something atrocious happens."
Contact Carolyn Davis at 610-313-8109, email@example.com, or @carolyntweets on Twitter.