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  1. #1
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    Opening statements to begin in case that sparked sanctuary cities debate

    By Catherine E. Shoichet, Dan Simon and Tal Kopan, CNN
    Updated 12:12 PM ET, Mon October 23, 2017

    San Francisco (CNN)Kate Steinle's killing inspired an immigration bill while President Donald Trump and other Republicans have invoked her name in decrying sanctuary cities and promoting the construction of a border wall.

    Now, more than two years after her death, her alleged killer will face a jury.

    Opening statements are set to begin Monday in the second-degree murder trial of Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant accused of repeatedly entering the United States illegally. He was arrested hours after Steinle was fatally shot while walking with her dad in July 2015 on a San Francisco pier. The bullet hit her in the back and pierced her aorta.

    Lopez-Sanchez's trial has been delayed a number of times since his arrest. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment.

    The case has stirred controversy over immigration policy because of two key details: Lopez-Sanchez was a convicted felon who'd been deported from the United States five times, and before the shooting, officials in San Francisco, a so-called sanctuary city, had released Lopez-Sanchez rather than turning him over to federal authorities.

    The Lopez-Sanchez case has become a rallying cry for Trump and others. But his attorney told CNN earlier this year that the killing was accidental.

    "There's substantial evidence that it's a complete accident," Matt Gonzalez said. "From our point of view, the bullet ricocheted off the ground."

    In a July op-ed, Gonzalez said his client found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt and it accidentally discharged in his hands, the bullet ricocheting off the pier near where Lopez-Sanchez was sitting. The gun was a Sig Sauer .40-caliber, which Gonzalez claims in the editorial is "known for having a hair trigger," and belonged to a Bureau of Land Management official who had it stolen out of his car, the attorney said.

    Saying his client's case was being used to "whip up fear of immigrants," Gonzalez further added that Lopez-Sanchez had never been charged with a violent crime and was in San Francisco only because federal authorities had transported him there to face a 20-year-old marijuana charge that was promptly dismissed.

    "He is a simple man with a second-grade education," Gonzalez wrote. "He came to the U.S. repeatedly because extreme poverty is the norm in many parts of Mexico. He risked going to jail so that he could perform a menial job that could feed him. Each time, he came to the U.S. because American employers openly encourage illegal immigration to fill the jobs U.S. citizens don't want."

    Prosecutors have painted Lopez-Sanchez as a danger to the public, arguing that he pointed the gun at Steinle and deliberately pulled the trigger.

    "This was an act of random violence," Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia said in 2015. "And the defendant claimed to have found this gun shortly before just firing it at somebody at close range, shooting an innocent victim in the back."

    Steinle's name echoed in the halls of Congress this summer as the House of Representatives passed "Kate's Law," a measure named for her. The Senate has yet to pass the measure, which would increase maximum prison penalties for immigrants caught repeatedly entering the United States illegally.

    But the slain 32-year-old's family has balked at her case becoming a symbol of Republicans' immigration agenda.

    Her father told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this year that the family supports the measure on the chance that it could save one life, but he wishes his daughter's name wasn't part of a political controversy.

    "I don't know who coined 'Kate's Law,'" Jim Steinle told the Chronicle. "It certainly wasn't us."

    The family filed a lawsuit in 2016 alleging that San Francisco and its former sheriff were partly to blame for Steinle's death because officials never notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement when Lopez-Sanchez was released from a local jail in April 2015. City officials have said they're not liable for a former inmate's actions. A federal judge dismissed the family's claims against San Francisco and former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi earlier this year.

    The Trump administration and supportive Republicans have made Steinle's death, along with other crimes allegedly committed by undocumented immigrants, a central focus of their immigration strategy.

    Steinle's death is mentioned in virtually every conversation lawmakers have about sanctuary cities, a catch-all term for jurisdictions that do not cooperate in some capacity with federal immigration enforcement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions mentioned her killing in July during a speech on sanctuary cities in Las Vegas, calling it a prime example of why hardline immigration policies are needed.

    "Her death was preventable — and it should have been prevented," Sessions said. "She would still be alive today if her killer had been imprisoned or deported as he should have been."

    Critics of the bill say Kate's Law would aggressively criminalize undocumented immigrants whose illegal presence in the country carries only civil, not criminal, penalties. They also accuse the administration of unfairly and inaccurately portraying immigrants as criminals. Defenders of the bill say any crime committed by an undocumented immigrant is a crime that could have been prevented.

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/23/politi...ial/index.html
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    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    We have Laws...does not matter if we have 100 more of them!



    ENFORCE OUR LAWS...DEPORT THEM ALL

    HAND ALL ILLEGALS AND VISA OVERSTAYS INTO THE HANDS OF FEDERAL AUTHORITIES WITHIN 24 HOURS OF APPREHENSION...OUT OF THE LOCAL JURISDICTIONS, COURTS AND JAILS.

    PUT THEM IN FEDERAL TENT CITY ON FEDERAL LAND WITH A PANEL OF FEDERAL JUDGES AND BOOT THEM OUT OF HERE!
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    Kate Steinle trial features testimony of witness to killing by illegal immigrant

    1 day ago

    The second day in the trial of the homeless illegal immigrant from Mexico charged with killing Kate Steinle featured testimony from a witness to the slaying.

    Michelle Lo took the stand Tuesday to tell the jury, with the help of an interpreter, what she saw the night of July 1, 2015, when Steinle was fatally shot in San Francisco.

    Lo said she was on vacation in San Francisco with her family at the time. She remembered a man dressed in black who "looked like a homeless person" and was spinning around in a chair "grinning and laughing" who made her uncomfortable.

    She said she and her family continued along a pier before hearing a "very sharp scream" and seeing a woman on the ground. And she said she saw the same man from earlier walking away.

    Lo had taken photos on the pier before the shooting occurred and both Steinle and the defendant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, appeared in them. One showed Zarate sitting in one of the aformentioned chairs and another showed Steinle walking near him.

    During the defense's cross examination, attorney Matt Gonzalez questioned Lo based off her initial police interview at the time of the shooting, during which she said she didn't really notice Zarate.

    After Lo repeatedly said she didn't remember certain details, Gonzalez read portions of her interview transcript. She confirmed to the jury that at the time of the interview she said, "I didn't pay too much attention to him" and "looked because [I] was passing by but not intentional."

    She also confirmed that Zarate's presence in her photos was coincidental.

    Following Lo, the jury heard from two other witnesses, Maria Moreno and Aryn Carpenter, who were staying at a hotel near the pier at the time of the shooting.

    The pair said they could hear "screams like you'd hear in a horror film" and saw a large group of people hovering around what appeared to be a body.

    They said they were later able to identify Zarate for police because he had been "the only person walking away" and they remembered that he had a "scowl on his face."

    San Francisco police Officer Raymond Ortiz also testified Tuesday. He was part of the investigative team that processed the crime scene.

    He showed the jury photos of some evidence obtained that day including crime tape around the chair Zarate had reportedly been sitting in, crime scene markers around Steinle's tan sweater and sandals, and medical equipment near large blood stains.

    Zarate, 54, admitted shooting Steinle, but says it was an accident.

    Steinle's father testified Monday that before she died, she said to him: "Help me, Dad."

    The prosecution said those were her last words.

    While Garcia's immigration status is what brought the case into the national spotlight, jurors will not hear evidence about that, and it will not be a factor in the trial.

    Steinle's slaying became a signature issue for Donald Trump as he was running for president. He invoked the slaying in calling for the construction of a wall on the Mexican border and stepping up deportations and cracking down on illegal immigration.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/24...immigrant.html
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    Ranger whose stolen gun was used in Steinle killing testifies in trial

    By Vivian Ho Updated 6:13 pm, Thursday, October 26, 2017

    A federal ranger, tasked with patrolling a swath of land along the California-Mexico border, parks his car on the Embarcadero across from San Francisco’s Pier 5, where the vehicle is broken into and his secondary service gun is stolen.

    Four days later, the gun is found less than a mile away on the Embarcadero by a homeless Mexican citizen who had come into the country illegally and was being sought for deportation.

    The series of events, outlined Thursday in a San Francisco courtroom, would lead to the killing of Kate Steinle, as she strolled on Pier 14 with her father, on July 1, 2015. The crime would fuel a national debate about immigration and sanctuary laws.

    But the seemingly random connections that emerged on the fourth day in Jose Ines Garcia Zarate’s murder trial hint that the case was steeped in the issue of immigration even before then.

    Prosecutors and the defense both have worked to separate the criminal proceedings from the politics, asking jurors to instead focus on the main question in the trial: Whether the 45-year-old defendant had intentionally fired the shot that killed Steinle and should be convicted of second-degree murder, or if it were an accident — manslaughter — as Garcia Zarate’s attorneys contend.

    John William Woychowski Jr., a ranger for the federal Bureau of Land Management, took the stand Thursday to answer Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia’s questions about the car break-in that resulted in the theft of his .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun four days before Steinle was shot.

    He testified that he was traveling to an assignment in Montana, and brought his fiancé and three children with him. They stopped in San Francisco for dinner at about 9:30 p.m. on June 27, 2015, and he chose to park on the Embarcadero because it was well-lit and felt safe.

    Woychowski tucked the backpack that held his secondary handgun, which was fully loaded with one in the chamber and a full magazine of seven rounds, behind the driver’s side seat because the back windows were tinted and driver’s seat pushed back automatically when the car parked. He said he spoke to a man he believed to either be a parking enforcement officer or a security guard, who told him to return by 11 p.m.

    When he and the family returned, the window closest to where the backpack was placed was smashed and black glass littered the ground.

    Garcia Zarate’s attorney, Matt Gonzalez, said in his opening statement that Woychowski is not on trial, but he has long maintained that the issue around the case was less about immigration and more about gun safety. On Thursday, the attorney tried to ask Woychowski why he believed it was safe to leave a fully loaded gun in a backpack behind the driver’s side seat, but Garcia, the prosecutor, repeatedly objected to the questioning with success.

    “Do you believe you bear any responsibility for what happened with your firearm four days later?” Gonzalez asked. Garcia objected, and Woychowski did not have to answer the question.

    Gonzalez says the gun accidentally discharged in Garcia Zarate’s hands after he found it wrapped in a T-shirt or cloth under a bench, and is expected to call expert witnesses to testify that the particular gun model used in Steinle’s death has a hair trigger and is prone to accidental discharges.

    In his cross examination of Woychowski, Gonzalez attempted to establish whether the gun had been set in single-action mode or double-action mode. A gun in double-action mode requires extra pressure on the trigger to cock the hammer and fire the bullet. A gun in single-action mode already has the hammer cocked and requires less trigger pressure.

    Woychowski testified that he always left that gun in double-action mode. Outside court, Gonzalez said he wasn’t satisfied with his answer — and either way, no one knows what happened to the gun in the four days before the shooting

    The Steinle family is suing the Bureau of Land Management in a lawsuit that is still ongoing. Following Steinle’s death, legislators pushed to tighten requirements for securing weapons, especially in unattended cars, for gun owners and law enforcement officers.

    Garcia Zarate had been on track for a sixth deportation when the Sheriff’s Department, relying on San Francisco’s sanctuary policies, released him from County Jail in spring 2015 despite a federal request to hold him for deportation. He had ended up in the city on a transfer from federal custody in March 2015 on an old warrant alleging that he fled marijuana charges in 1995.

    The case sparked a push against the policies, and the House of Representatives in June passed “Kate’s Law,” which would boost punishment for people who repeatedly enter the U.S. illegally.

    San Francisco has stood by its sanctuary laws, with officials saying they benefit public safety by ensuring that immigrants, including witnesses to crimes, feel comfortable working with authorities. Gov. Jerry Brown this month signed a bill to create a statewide sanctuary policy.

    http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/...e-12309833.php
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    Kate Steinle trial: Police testify bullet ricocheted, killed woman in San Francisco

    October 30, 2017

    The fifth day in the trial of the homeless illegal immigrant charged with killing Kate Steinle in San Francisco featured a police witness who explained the deadly bullet's trajectory, after a week of dramatic testimony.

    The bullet that killed Steinle, whose death touched off a national debate about illegal immigration, ricocheted off the ground about 100 feet away before hitting her in the back, a retired police investigator testified Monday.

    Former Officer John Evans said he and other investigators working on the case found a “strike mark” on the pier’s concrete surface four days after the shooting of Steinle by a Mexican national who had been deported five times.

    Prosecutors have charged Jose Ines Garcia Zarate with murder, alleging he intended to point and shoot the gun at pedestrians on the pier on July 1, 2015.

    Lawyers for Garcia Zarate say the ricochet shows the shooting was accidental.

    Evans, who later retired from the department, said investigators had overlooked the strike mark on the night the 32-year-old Steinle was killed.

    Authorities returned to the popular pier four days later, after the bullet was found to be partially flattened, indicating it had ricocheted, he said.

    Evans also testified that inexperienced shooters are often shaky and fire in haste, causing the barrel of the gun to point downward. He called it “jerking the trigger.”

    Defense lawyer Matt Gonzalez called that aspect of Evans’ analysis “highly speculative,” and the two wrangled over whether the shot had traveled straight, which would support the prosecution’s contention that Garcia Zarate aimed the gun before firing.

    Evans conceded on cross-examination that he didn’t know exactly where Garcia Zarate was sitting when the gun fired nor did he know the specific spot where Steinle was standing when she was struck.

    The retired officer said he drew a circle around blood spots and Steinle’s bloody clothes and another circle where witnesses placed Garcia Zarate. Using a laser pointer, Evans said he created a straight line between the two circles and through the strike mark.

    Testimony on Thursday came from a government employee whose gun was stolen and used in the shooting.

    Bureau of Land Management Agent John Woychowski told the jury he parked his car in what he thought was a safe location and left a black backpack, which had his loaded weapon inside, in the back seat. He said the car was locked and had an alarm and tinted windows.

    When his family returned from dinner, he said his car’s windows were smashed and the backpack was gone.

    He said he immediately reported the theft to 911 and his employer.

    The prosecution brought out a P239 weapon as evidence which Woychowski confirmed was his and he showed the jury how it worked, adding that he’d never had trouble with it.

    Gonzalez cross-examined the agent, focusing primarily on why the agent had a loaded gun if he was off duty — and why he left it in the car.

    Woychowski said he was required to keep his weapon loaded in a specific way and reiterated that he thought the car was safe. He said he always kept the backpack on him to protect his family. He added his employer had issued a locking device for the gun but he didn’t have it on him that day and that the gun did not have an external safety.

    Previous days in court have included testimony from witnesses on the scene and responding officers who handled evidence and investigation.

    Garcia Zarate, 54, admitted shooting Steinle, but says it was an accident.

    Prosecutors and Gonzalez said the case boils down to whether Garcia Zarate pointed and fired the gun intentionally or the weapon accidentally discharged.

    Steinle’s father testified last week at the trial’s opening that before she died, she said to him: “Help me, Dad.”

    The prosecution said those were her last words.

    While Garcia Zarate’s immigration status is what brought the case into the national spotlight, jurors will not hear evidence about that, and it will not be a factor in the trial.

    Steinle’s death became a signature issue for Donald Trump as he was running for president. He invoked the slaying in calling for the construction of a wall on the Mexican border and stepping up deportations and cracking down on illegal immigration.

    San Francisco is a sanctuary city, with local law enforcement officials barred from cooperating with federal immigration authorities. President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding to cities with similar immigration policies.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/30...testimony.html
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    Kate Steinle killer’s rambling account: He fired at ‘sea animal,’ or stepped on the g

    Kate Steinle killer’s rambling account: He fired at ‘sea animal,’ or stepped on the gun

    By Vivian Ho Updated 7:47 pm, Wednesday, November 1, 2017

    Under police questioning hours after Kate Steinle was fatally shot on San Francisco’s Pier 14, the accused killer at one point said he had aimed at a “sea animal.”

    At another point, he said the gun had been under a rag that lay on the ground near the waterfront, that it fired when he stepped on it, and that he quickly tossed the weapon into the bay so it would stop “shooting on its own.”

    The varying confessions offered by Jose Ines Garcia Zarate — captured on video and played Wednesday for jurors at the 45-year-old man’s murder trial — may clarify what happened along the Embarcadero on the evening of July 1, 2015. Then again, they may not.

    Garcia Zarate, a homeless undocumented immigrant with a history of drug crimes and deportations, repeatedly changed his story and seemed not to understand basic concepts. His interrogators implored him to “tell us the truth.”

    He told investigators he was born in 1863, that he was a citizen of Colombia rather than Mexico, and that he was 5 to 6 feet away from Steinle on the pier, despite evidence that at least 90 feet separated the two at the time of the shooting.

    The prosecution believes that Garcia Zarate pulled the trigger of the pistol — which had been stolen four days earlier from the nearby parked car of an off-duty federal ranger — and fired toward Steinle, an unexplained but intentional act showing the malice needed for a second-degree murder conviction.

    But the defense, citing evidence that the bullet skipped off the concrete ground, has said the gun accidentally discharged after Garcia Zarate found it in a T-shirt or cloth under his seat on the pier and unwrapped it.

    The case gained wide attention not only because of the randomness of Steinle’s death, as she strolled on Pier 14 with her father, but also because of how it figured into the national debate over the enforcement of immigration laws and the anti-immigrant sentiment embraced by President Trump.

    Garcia Zarate had been on track for a sixth deportation when federal authorities brought him to San Francisco to face an old warrant in a marijuana case. When city prosecutors dismissed the case, the Sheriff’s Department, relying on the city’s sanctuary policies for immigrants, released Garcia Zarate despite a federal request to hold him for removal.

    In the video played Wednesday in Superior Court by Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia, the defendant sat huddled in the corner of an interrogation room at the Hall of Justice, declining food or drink. When police homicide investigators asked him if he needed anything, he said he was cold. It was past midnight, in the aftermath of the shooting.

    Garcia played the footage after calling Lt. Anthony Ravano, the lead investigator in the case, to the witness stand.

    Through a Spanish interpreter, Garcia Zarate said he had been walking near AT&T Park that evening, southeast of Pier 14, eating crackers. He said he had, prior to that, been sleeping after “coming in from work,” collecting recyclable bottles and cans from garbage bins.

    “We want to know if he was on the pier,” Ravano asked the interpreter, a Spanish-speaking city officer.

    “No, I was farther away,” said Garcia Zarate, who made some responses in Spanish and others in English. “I was sitting next to a planter.”

    Ravano testified that he became more aggressive in his questioning because “it was my belief that the defendant was lying to us.”

    He said he deceived Garcia Zarate — a tactic that is allowed in interrogations — by telling him police had already recovered the gun from the bay, had DNA and gunshot-residue evidence tying him to the shooting, and had found witnesses who saw him shoot.

    In fact, a dive team would fish the pistol from the bay the day after the killing. No one witnessed the shooting, but Ravano, in the interrogation, had photos of Garcia Zarate taken by tourists proving he had been on the pier.
    “This is you. We know this is you. People say this is you,” Ravano said in the video.

    Garcia Zarate defended himself, saying it was a coincidence that the man in the photo was wearing the same shirt as him. He pointed out there were no crackers in the photo, even though he had been eating crackers.

    “I want to know why you shot the girl and threw the gun in the water,” said Sgt. Chris Canning, who was also in the room.
    Garcia Zarate stayed silent.

    “This girl,” Ravano said, gesturing to a photo of Steinle. “You fired the shot. Why?”

    Still he remained silent.

    “What’s the matter?” Canning asked. “Are you sad?”

    Eventually, Garcia Zarate admitted throwing the gun in the bay because he wanted it to stop shooting, suggesting the discharge was accidental.

    Later, Ravano asked of the fatal shot, “What were you aiming at?”

    “Nothing,” Garcia Zarate responded.

    “What were you aiming at?” Ravano repeated.

    “I think it was a sea animal,” Garcia Zarate said. “A sea lion.”

    He later said it was “a black fish,” and when Ravano asked how long he had the gun, he said it was “only there” at the pier.
    He then changed his story.

    “When I was walking along, there was a rag,” Garcia Zarate said. “I stepped on it and it fired and I threw it.”
    “Why did you throw it?” Ravano asked.

    “I was trying to stop it from shooting on its own,” Garcia Zarate responded.

    Canning pulled his seat close to the suspect and put a hand on his shoulder, bringing his face close to Garcia Zarate’s face.

    “The truth is very important,” he said. “Lying will just give you more trouble. As difficult as the truth can be, the truth is always the best. So tell us the truth. You didn’t step on the gun, did you?”

    “Yes,” Garcia Zarate said.

    “You pulled the trigger. Is that the truth?” Canning asked.

    “Sí,” Garcia Zarate said.

    But he continued to answer in the affirmative, even when Ravano and Canning asked if he shot Steinle from 5 feet away.

    The investigators repeatedly tried to get Garcia Zarate to describe a motive, with Ravano at one point asking whether the shooting could have been an accident. All Garcia Zarate would say was that the gun was too big for his hand, and he had to throw it.

    The interrogation ran from 1:50 a.m. to 5:45 a.m., Ravano testified. Garcia Zarate, who was arrested on the Embarcadero soon after the shooting, had sat handcuffed in a patrol car since about 7:30 p.m., and had arrived at the Hall of Justice about midnight — which his attorney says likely contributed to his scattered statements.

    “How do you feel?” one of the investigators asked Garcia Zarate at one point, seemingly trying to prod him into expressing remorse over Steinle’s death.

    “I just want to stay attentive and focused and I just want to sign the papers that I did it,” he said in Spanish.

    Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez, of the city public defender’s office, pointed out that amid Garcia Zarate’s alleged confessions, he continually returned to the version in which the gun accidentally discharged shortly after he found it on the pier.

    “The police were able to get Mr. Garcia Zarate to abandon what he said and adopt what they were saying,” Gonzalez said, “but as soon as they thereafter asked him his question again, he would revert back to his position.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/articl...e-12324625.php
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    I don't think it matters whether it accidentally discharged. He was in possession of the gun he wasn't supposed to have and killed someone in a country he wasn't supposed to be in. The ole "the gun just went off" doesn't matter, he was responsible for the murder of Kate Steinle.
    Last edited by Judy; 11-06-2017 at 06:55 PM.
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    Defense to call first witness in Kate Steinle murder trial

    By Michael Barba on November 6, 2017 11:04 am

    The defense for an undocumented immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle is expected to call its first witness Monday in the murder trial that ignited a nationwide immigration debate.

    Matt Gonzalez, an attorney for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, told reporters last week that he would call as many as seven witnesses to the stand, including experts in firearms and video surveillance.

    Garcia Zarate is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting Steinle on July 1, 2015 on Pier 14. The case hinges on whether the shooting was intentional or an accident.

    President Donald Trump has used the killing to call for a crackdown on sanctuary cities.

    Garcia Zarate is an undocumented Mexican citizen who San Francisco released from jail before the shooting instead of handing him over to immigration authorities for deportation.

    The prosecution rested its case Thursday after two weeks of testimony. The prosecution and defense have both left politics out of the trial.

    Prosecutor Diana Garcia called a retired police investigator who testified that Garcia Zarate shot the gun in Steinle’s direction before it ricocheted in a straight line and struck her.

    Gonzalez has said that a firearms expert he calls will testify that the bullet could have bounced sideways in her direction when it ricocheted.

    Garcia also showed jurors surveillance footage taken from a quarter mile away of Steinle falling on the pier when she was shot.

    Gonzalez has said that the surveillance footage also shows a group of people standing on the pier before Garcia Zarate arrives. He claims that Garcia Zarate found the gun on the pier, and that the people could have left the gun there.

    Gonzalez is expected to call a witness who analyzed the footage.

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/defense-ca...-murder-trial/
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    Senior Member Beezer's Avatar
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    It has been over TWO YEARS now...and sanctuary cities are still running full speed ahead with NO arrests of these Governor's and Mayor's who blatantly AID AND ABET ILLEGAL ALIENS!

    And they give them Driver's Licenses and register them to Vote!

    This is outrages...President Trump...deem those DL's null and void.

    RELIEVE THEM OF THEIR DUTIES...THEY ARE NOT FIT TO GOVERN THE STATE OR RUN THE CITIES.
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    Defense in Kate Steinle trial claims surveillance footage supports accidental dischar

    Defense in Kate Steinle trial claims surveillance footage supports accidental discharge

    By Michael Barba on November 7, 2017 6:51 pm

    Homicide investigators glossed over surveillance footage that corroborates the story of an undocumented homeless man who told police he found the gun used to kill Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier, according to defense attorneys who argue the shooting was accidental.

    The defense on Tuesday performed a second-by-second analysis of grainy surveillance footage that they said shows defendant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate bending over in a chair on Pier 14 moments before the shooting July 1, 2015.

    Garcia Zarate told police the gun went off when he found it wrapped in a rag near his seat on the pier. The most contentious issue in the murder trial is whether the shooting was intentional.

    The video also showed a group of six unidentified people gathered around the chair for nearly half an hour before Garcia Zarate arrived on the pier. Police did not attempt to identify the individuals who are seen in the video before the shooting.

    “It’s sloppy and unfortunately we’re the one putting forth that evidence,” Francisco Ugarte, an attorney for Garcia Zarate, said outside the courtroom. “It’s entirely likely that group of individuals discarded the weapon.”

    Ugarte said homicide investigators did not believe Garcia Zarate when he told them about finding the gun during an interrogation after the shooting.

    The gun was stolen from a Bureau of Land Management ranger who left the weapon unsecured in his luxury sports utility vehicle in San Francisco four days before the shooting. Police have yet to solve the auto burglary, but Garcia Zarate is not accused of stealing the gun.

    Prosecutor Diana Garcia first presented the surveillance footage as evidence that Garcia Zarate shot Steinle earlier in the trial. Police collected the footage from the fireboat dock at Pier 22 ½, which is a quarter mile from Pier 14.

    Paul Hiromi Endo, the president of litigation graphics firm Think Twice Inc., testified Tuesday about the video as a witness for the defense. Endo enhanced the high-definition video to zoom in on the pier and first showed jurors six figures who walked onto the pier and gathered around the chair where Garcia Zarate later sat.

    Endo pointed out at least seven times in the video where he said a person bent down near the chair where Garcia Zarate allegedly found the weapon.

    “There are instances where they appear to be bending at the waist just based on the outline and knowing that these are people,” Endo said in court.

    “And that’s right at the seat that Mr. Garcia Zarate will be sitting in later?” asked Matt Gonzalez, an attorney for Garcia Zarate.

    “Yes,” Endo said.

    Endo said the group stayed on the pier for nearly 30 minutes and left half an hour before Garcia Zarate arrived.

    “The activity of the individuals were not consistent with tourism,” Ugarte told reporters. “They appeared to be circling the seat looking down, bending down and it’s remarkably coincidental that the incident took place.”

    In the half hour before Garcia Zarate arrived on the pier, Endo said the video shows one person sat in the chair and another person stood near the chair. The defense does not believe those individuals are related to the shooting.

    Endo honed in on the moments before the shooting. He enhanced a small frame from the video that he said showed Garcia Zarate moving his legs and “bending over.”

    The prosecution is expected to cross examine Endo on Wednesday morning.

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/defense-ka...tal-discharge/
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