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Home Featured The Steinle crime scene: The gun, the shirt ….

The Steinle crime scene: The gun, the shirt ….

... and scant evidence that Zarate was "fleeing" Pier 14 after the tragic shooting

During opening statements, Matt Gonzalez referred to the gun that was found in the Bay. Drawing by Vicki Behringer

San Francisco police Officer Scott Hurley is trained to discover evidence or explosives suspected to be underwater.

But on July 2nd, as he felt through debris, boulders, and silt on the Bay floor in zero visibility he veered off the course in his search. It was then that he found the gun: “My hand slipped through the cervices between two rocks. And my hand touched something that felt unique,” Hurley said Wednesday in San Francisco Superior Court.

During opening statements, Matt Gonzalez referred to the gun that was found in the Bay. Drawing by Vicki Behringer

Hurley had found the stolen .40-caliber handgun, that the day before had fired the single bullet that killed Kate Steinle as she strolled with her father along the pier.

On the third day of the trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who is charged with the fatal shooting, the prosecution focused on the aftermath of the death in an effort to prove that the 45-year old Mexican citizen
intentionally shot Steinle and should be convicted of second-degree murder. 

In her opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia said Garcia Zarate’s actions after the shooting proved his guilty state of mind. The prosecution today presented witnesses that said he tossed the firearm into the Bay and walked away as bystanders rushed to aid Steinle. 

Zarate’s attorney, Matt Gonzalez, chief trail lawyer at the public defender’s office, said in his opening statement that the evidence that will be presented to the jury supports an accidental discharge.

Gonzalez said Zarate tossed the gun into the Bay because he was frightened it had gone off and was afraid it would continue firing, not because he was trying to cover up a crime. Zarate, his lawyer said, found the gun wrapped in what appeared to be a shirt.
Garcia asked Hurley if they found a T-shirt while looking for the gun. 

On cross-examination, Gonzalez raised the possibility that the T-shirt or cloth could have been buried or swept out into the Bay — or Hurley, who was working in very difficult conditions, could simply have missed it. Hurley said that he was not instructed to search for a shirt or cloth while underwater.

The pistol in question had been stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger’s car a few days before the shooting; the off-duty ranger had parked along the Embarcadero. No arrests have been made with regards to the burglary, and the federal agent has since been promoted and faced no criminal charges.

Towards the end of the day, the jury saw surveillance videos of Zarate leaving the pier after the shooting and just before his arrests. The video show Zarate walking around the Embarcadero often pausing to look into trash-cans. He does not appear to be running, or as the DA put it, “fleeing the scene.” The video of his arrest shows Zarate walking towards the police car before putting his hands up and lying on the ground.



  1. You’ve nailed it but don’t take away the only thing that Jennifer Geek Girl has–her poison keyboard

  2. Now, this person simply lies. Glosses over the facts that get in the way of a racist agenda. He had one grain of powder residue on his hands. That is not remotely consistent with someone actually holding, aiming, and firing a gun. The gun was 2 to 4 feet off the ground. That is consistent with someone sitting, and unwrapping an object wrapped in a t-shirt, which happens to be a gun that goes off when the t-shirt snags the trigger, which has a very light pull. There was no cartridge found. If the gun was in a t-shirt, the cartridge might well have been caught in it. No, an expert would never dismiss these things, unless he was trying to help frame someone, and was willing to throw away his career to do it. This person loves to make such statements, with no substantiation, and then make belittling comments about people basing their knowledge of crime scene on TV shows. What a buffoon. Oh, and I have had a class in criminal investigation. At one time, I planned to pursue a career in law, and to be a defense attorney. I changed my mind when I learned that most criminal practice is plea bargaining. The sort of trial we are seeing is very rare.

  3. Right. To date we have zero evidence proving the defense’s claim that the gun went off accidentally. All we have is some evidence of a ricochet. And all that means is…the bullet ricocheted. The lack of shell casings, the lack of gunpowder residue prove nothing at all, and no expert or LE official will tell you otherwise.

    Unfortunately, too many dopey people still base their “knowledge” of crime scenes, investigative techniques and so one on TV shows.

  4. You are right, quoting NY law was copy paste. But I believe In a homicide, to make a murder case, the prosecutor must establish malice aforethought. Malice can be participation in reckless, dangerous activity. If it is shown that there was no malice, it is then voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. Drunk Driving is malice. No intention to kill, but involved in reckless behavior.
    That is why they have trials. I am not on the jury, so I will never know all the information. But from what I have read, he shot a gun indiscriminately in a crowded area, and I believe shooting a gun into a crowd constitutes malice.

  5. That wasn’t stated in aquamarine’s post. Her post didn’t address the deliberateness of Zarate’s action(s) – only the definition of what “fleeing” means, in this context and how to apply the term.

    Your mental theatrics and contortions and exponential snowballing of the facts surrounding this killing must leave you exhausted. You’re trying to mind-read others’ feelings based not upon what they’ve written, and ascribe characteristics based on your own feelings and projections. Bigotry. The definition of which is: intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself. Fancy that.

  6. You know, I have been pondering why some are so obsessed with proving that Zarate deliberately killed Steinle, and I realized anything else contradicts the extreme hatred they hold. If he did not commit a crime, in their minds, first degree murder, then their world view takes a blow. They can’t view him as part of the great mass of evil right below our borders, waiting to come and rape, kill, and pillage. So, they grasp at every straw, and try to distort every fact to suit their view.

  7. “Fleeing”, in police jargon, means knowingly leaving the scene of a crime. Doesn’t have to be running at top marathon pace to be “fleeing”.

  8. Sounds like “Depraved indifference”.
    “to bring defendant’s conduct within the murder statute, the People were required to establish also that defendant’s act was imminently dangerous and presented a very high risk of death to others and that it was committed under circumstances which evidenced a wanton indifference to human life or a depravity of mind. . . . . The crime differs from intentional murder in that it results not from a specific, conscious intent to cause death, but from an indifference to or disregard of the risks attending defendant’s conduct.” 60 NY2d at 274.

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