The trial of the man accused of killing Kate Steinle at Pier 14 in San Francisco is drawing to a close.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was in the United States illegally after being deported five times, is accused of shooting Steinle as she walked along the pier with her father in July 2015.
According to the Associated Press, Jim Steinle testified that after she was shot, his 32-year-old daughter begged him, “Help me, Dad,” as she collapsed in his arms.
The case became a cause célèbre for people opposed to illegal immigration and San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” status. The homicide was front and center in the 2016 presidential primary and general election. However, Garcia Zarate’s illegal status and San Francisco’s laxity on undocumented aliens were never allowed to be introduced into the court case.
Garcia Zarate is a Mexican national who’s been arrested and imprisoned multiple times in the United States. His defense attorney maintained that because of an inaccurate translation, he was unable to understand what the police had asked him during questioning after the shooting.
The issue with the official police interpreter was brought up during the last day of testimony on Monday.
The accused killer confessed to shooting the gun toward Steinle, but the interpreter supposedly got something wrong, according to his defense attorney. Bay City News reported:
A translator presented as an expert witness for the defense today said the police translator had consistently mistranslated the word “trigger” during the interrogation.
Instead of asking Garcia Zarate if he had pulled the trigger, as officers asked him in English, the translator asked if he had fired the gun, according to translator Fanny Suarez, a trained legal interpreter and investigator for the public defender’s office.
Garcia Zarate’s attorney says that means he didn’t intend to pull the trigger.
The defense attorney said that Garcia Zarate just happened to find the gun — directly under where he was sitting — wrapped in a T-shirt. He contended that Garcia Zarate picked up the weapon, didn’t realize what it was, and it accidentally fired. The ricocheting bullet killed Steinle.
Previously, the man claimed that he was intentionally shooting at a sea lion.
Right after the shooting, the accused killer threw the gun into the bay. It was recovered by divers the next day.
The trial never answered the question of who had stolen the gun from the car of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officer visiting the city and how it happened to come into Garcia Zarate’s possession.
The Steinle family has filed a civil lawsuit against the BLM. Other lawsuits against the city over its sanctuary policy have been dismissed.
The defense rested on Friday, and closing arguments in the case will start next Monday.