On a “beautiful summer afternoon” in July 2015, Kate Steinle and her father were strolling along Pier 14 in San Francisco. Suddenly, Kate fell to the ground and pleaded for her father to help her. She died soon afterwards.
The trial for Steinle’s alleged killer, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, started this week. Zarate is an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times and had recently completed time in prison for re-entering the U.S. illegally. He was transferred from the prison to the San Francisco County jail on a marijuana charge. The charge was dropped, and Zarate was released from jail. Even though federal immigration authorities had asked for Zarate to be retained for two days, the sheriff released him in obedience to the city’s sanctuary policy.
Zarate admitted that he shot Steinle, but he claims that it was an accident. He claims that he found the gun and that it misfired while he was looking at it. The bullet hit the pier about 15 feet from Zarate and ricocheted “almost 80 feet farther to hit Steinle.” The defense will use this fact to prove that Zarate was not actually trying to shoot Steinle, but the prosecution has firearms experts who will testify that he might have been aiming at her and pulled the trigger prematurely.
The Sig Sauer P239 was issued to a federal agent with the Bureau of Land Management, and it was stolen from his vehicle during a family trip from Southern California to Montana. There is no evidence that Zarate stole the gun, which he claims that he found wrapped in a cloth on the pier.
In response to the defense attorneys’ claim that the gun misfired, Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia stated that the bureau’s armory had checked the gun just three months prior to the shooting and found the “very reliable, high-quality gun” to be working perfectly.
The court arguments at this point seem to revolve around the gun itself. There is little said about the fact that Zarate was in the U.S. illegally. If the border was secure, Zarate would most likely have not been in the U.S. and Steinle would still be alive. This fact needs to be stated over and over even if it does not play a role in the court case. Will this case have any influence on the immigration policies of the United States?” Only time will tell if Kate Steinle will receive justice.