Kate Steinle murder trial underway

The illegal alien who shot and killed Katie Steinle, thus igniting a debate over illegal immigration, went on trial yesterday in San Francisco. The defense is claiming that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate did not deliberately shoot Steinle, that the gun discharged and the 32 year old woman was killed by a richochet.

The prosecution says the shooting was a deliberate act.

San Jose Mercury News:

The undocumented immigrant accused of shooting and killing Pleasanton native Kate Steinle was aiming toward her and knew what he was doing, a prosecutor argued Monday at the start of a politically charged murder case that sparked a nationwide debate over immigration policy.

But a defense attorney said Steinle’s death was the result of an accidental gunshot and a “freakish ricochet” of the bullet that struck her.

The trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who allegedly shot 32-year-old Steinle on San Francisco’s Pier 14 in July 2015, kicked off on Monday with opening statements and brief but emotional testimony from Steinle’s father, who was walking with her during the shooting.

The closely watched case has attracted national attention because of its connection to immigration policy — Garcia Zarate, a Mexican citizen, was released from a San Francisco jail two and a half months before the shooting instead of being deported because of the city’s sanctuary city policy. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and other conservatives seized on the shooting as an argument for tougher immigration laws.

But inside Courtroom 13, the focus was on ballistics, not politics. Neither side in the trial referred to the political furor surrounding the shooting, and Garcia Zarate’s immigration status was barely mentioned.

Garcia Zarate, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, and his lawyers argue that the shooting was an accident — a single shot that ricocheted off the pier into Steinle’s back. The prosecution will try to convince jurors that Garcia Zarate shot recklessly at people, the standard necessary for a second-degree conviction.

Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia started her at times dramatic opening statement by lifting up the gun, a plastic tag through its trigger.

She described the “beautiful summer afternoon” that Steinle, her father, and a family friend took a walk in San Francisco’s Embarcadero neighborhood. The group passed by Garcia Zarate on the pier, she said.

Garcia Zarate, who was spinning around in a chair on the pier, aimed “towards” Steinle with the gun and fired, Garcia argued. Steinle, who was walking with her father, fell forward.

“The only thing she could say was ‘dad, help me, help me,'” Garcia said. “Those would be her last words.”

The main point will not be discussed in this trial; that Zarate should not only not have been on the pier, but had no business even being in the country. Illegal immigration and sanctuary city policies will almost certainly be left out of the prosecutors brief because the judge is more than likely to rule that the information is "predjudicial" to the defendant's case.

Even if those issues are never mentioned, they will hang over the trial anyway. 

Under the rules established by the Obama administration, Zarate should have been deported. That he wasn't shows the callousness of city officials who would rather pander politically to a powerful constituency than keep citizens safe. Perhaps a trial like this will open a few eyes among voters who are the victims of this policy and might not appreciate city officials making them targets.