A jury was seated today in the Jose Ines Garcia Zarate trial, six men and six women from San Francisco who will decide whether the defendant was guilty of murder in the killing of Kate Steinle.
If he’s found guilty, Zarate could spend the rest of his life in prison.
After a long session of questioning potential jurors yesterday, this morning’s session moved fairly quickly. Both the prosecution and the defense used six of their 20 challenges, dismissing jurors without having to cite a cause.
Then Matt Gonzalez, representing Zarate, passed and said he could accept the jury. Diana Garcia, the prosecutor, kept dismissing two more jurors, and the court kept replacing them, and Gonzalez kept passing and saying he accepted the jury.
Then Garcia finally agreed to accept the jury, and the panel was sworn in.
In his final questions to the panel, Gonzalez noted that jurors are supposed to deliberate after they hear the evidence, and work together to reach a verdict. But he noted that it’s also important for jurors to stick to their principles, even if they are the only holdout.
There are, he noted, more than 1.2 million people in San Francisco during the day. “If there is a single juror who disagrees with the others, just by the numbers, there may be 100,000 people in the city who are with you.”
A jury verdict in a criminal case has to be unanimous.
The case is politically explosive; Donald Trump used it during his campaign to stir up anti-immigrant sentiment.
Judge Samuel Feng set opening statements for Monday. That’s when we will begin to hear the lawyers outline how they are going to present their cases.
While only a few reporters were around for jury selection, I expect a huge scrum of national and local press will descend on the Hall of Justice Monday.
Although it’s a public proceeding, the courtroom is small, and most of the seats are already assigned. Only a handful of seats will be available to the public, based on a lottery conducted at the Hall every morning.