Murder — or a tragic accident?

Two very different -- and irreconcilable -- versions of the death of Kate Steinle emerge in the Zarate trial

The prosecution and defense in the Zarate trial presented dramatically different – and irreconcilable – versions of the events of July 1, 2015, when a gun went off and a bullet ricocheted off the hard concrete at Pier 14 and struck and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle.

Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia showed the jurors the .40-caliber Sig-Sauer that fired the fatal round and told them that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate “pointed the gun in her direction and pulled the trigger.”

Prosecutor Diana Garcia shows the jury the gun she says Jose Ines Garcia Zarate intentionally aimed and shot. Drawing by Vicki Behringer

“I will prove to you that the defendant intentionally fired a gun at people on Pier 14,” she said.

Defense lawyer Matt Gonzalez argued that Zarate never intended to fire the weapon at all, much less at anybody, and that the hair-trigger gun designed for use by highly-trained law-enforcement officers discharged by accident – as that model of gun is known to do.

In fact, he offered new forensic information suggesting that it was very unlikely Zarate held the steel in his hands and fired.

Garcia described the scene that day and told the jury how Steinle and her father were walking on the pier with an old family friend. Several witnesses heard a loud bang, then Kate Steinle fell to the ground. The bullet severed a major blood vessel, and she died at SF General.

Garcia said she would produce evidence of Zarate “fleeing the pier” after throwing the gun in the Bay. He was arrested about a mile away, taken to a police station and interrogated.

“After giving a bogus date of birth, he started out by lying,” she said. “He said he wasn’t there.”

The officers, she said, then did a little lying of their own: They told Zarate that they had found the gun, which wasn’t true, and that they had found DNA evidence on it. “They told him all of this to make him think he was dead to rights, to make him talk, and he did,” she explained.

He admitted that he had fired the gun, she said, and was aiming at a seal.

The jury also heard a bit about the Bureau of Land Management ranger who left the gun in his car. He was on his way from Southern California to Montana, and was taking a two-day holiday with his family along the way when he parked his car on the Embarcadero and went to dinner.

The gun was loaded, with a round in the chamber, because that’s how the agency trained its officers to carry it, she said.  It was a “backup gun,” a secondary weapon to be used in dangerous situations where a primary weapon had been lost or was out of ammo, and thus had to be ready for immediate action.

There is no doubt that the gun had a round in the chamber and a full magazine. Garcia said the hammer wasn’t drawn back, meaning the trigger would have required a harder pull; Gonzalez later suggested that it was in such a ready firing position that even a few pounds of pressure on the trigger could have cause it to discharge.

“He knew he had a gun, meant to conceal it, meant to shoot people, and ended up killing Kate Steinle,” Garcia concluded.

There was an odd moment in her statement when she talked about how police departments in the old days used to teach officers about ricochet (or “skip”) shots – which sounded to me as if she was suggesting that some officers used that technique intentionally, and that maybe Zarate intended to bounce the bullet off the concrete and kill someone. I was not the only reporter who got that impression.

But a spokesman for the DA later said that Garcia was really saying that departments teach officers how to interpret and analyze ricochets. Which makes little sense if she was talking about the old days, since clearly investigators are taught about ballistics today, too.

Garcia has not taken questions from the news media.

Gonzalez offered a very different version of events. The gun, he said, was pointed at the ground, not at Steinle or anyone else. The shot, he said,  at first “missed Kate by 78 feet,” instead hitting the concrete floor of the pier.

Dozens of reporters from local and national media were present, and Matt Gonzalez spoke to them while the DA avoided all media

“If this had happened in a public park, it would have embedded in the grass,” he said. “Only a freakish ricochet could have been the cause” of Steinle’s death. “There has never been a murder trial on a ricochet case in San Francisco history,” he said.

There’s no way Zarate could have intended to kill anyone if he shot at the ground, Gonzalez argued: “An expert marksman could not make that shot.”

The bullet was deformed when it hit the concrete, and its path was altered in a way that would have been utterly unpredictable. He quoted Jim Norris, the former head of the SF crime lab, as saying that nobody intending to shoot anyone would fire at the ground first.

Then he said that type of gun in question “has been at the center of several law-enforcement accidental shootings.” It’s designed for elite law-enforcement people who are in an emergency situation, he said, and “it has discharged when dropped, when a button on a piece of clothing caught on it, when officers put it in a holster, when it is stepped on – and this is by trained personnel. Even the firearms instructors at the Sig-Sauer academy have accidental discharges.”

The federal agent who left the gun in his car, John Woychowski, was travelling with his family, including a five-year-old, and had the gun fully loaded with a round ready to fire in his backpack, Gonzalez said. He has never explained why he left the lethal weapon in his car.

Among the interesting elements of the case today: Gonzalez showed the jury a report demonstrating that Zarate had only a tiny amount of gun-shot residue on his hands. In fact, the report showed that on first examination, he had none, but a later microscopic review showed one particle.

A person who holds and fires a gun would typically have hundreds, if not thousands, of particles on his hands, Gonzalez later told reporters.

That, the attorney said, strongly suggests that the gun was wrapped in cloth, perhaps a piece of clothing, when Zarate picked it up – and was still wrapped when it went off.

It’s highly unlikely, Gonzalez said, that the prosecutions version of events — that Zarate aimed and fired the gun — could be possible if he had almost no gunshot residue on his hands.

Zarate made a long, rambling statement to police after he was arrested. He told them he was born in 1863 – “and if you think that’s a bogus answer, you are free to believe that,” Gonzalez told the jury.

In fact, from what we saw, the statement is full of inconsistencies – not surprising when you consider that Zarate has a second-grade education, understands little English, was questioned by a Spanish-speaking officer whose translations have been challenged, was exhausted at 5 in the morning, and was very likely mentally ill.

But in one are he was consistent: He said he had no idea who Steinle was, had no reason to want to hurt her or anyone else, and didn’t even realize he had fired a gun that killed someone.

He threw it in the Bay, he said, because “I didn’t want it to keep shooting on its own.”

And rather than “fleeing” the scene, he walked away.

“He had no motive, no animus, no erratic behavior,” Gonzalez said. It was, in short, a tragic, horrible accident, he told the jury – one that started with an irresponsible federal agent who is facing no charges at all.

“If a college kid or a Swedish tourist had been involved,” he asked the jury, “would he be charged with murder?”

128 COMMENTS

  1. Sorry, but you comment does not make a lot of sense. 12 plus years of investigation? And I think the judge knows how he got into San Francisco. And the Judge has not choice if the defense wants to put the defendant on the stand. They do not need the just permission. Nor can he be compelled to testify.

  2. Never insult your underlings. It makes you look dumb as you are implying that is a unique exercise donei
    mKey in this case (thanks, h.!!) is not whether this guy had or unintentionally or intentionally fired the gun is what is in play.

    I’m saying that from the evidence produced so far in 12 plus years of investigation is that this was a tragic accident and … thiis is key …

    The defendant did or did not possess in his body … the ability to understand what happened?
    It its really that simple a trial unless the judge allows how the hell the defendant got into San Francisco.

    I’m betting Saamuel Feng (whose own people were barred from entering the country under the, “Chinese Exclusion Act’) will allow the defendant to tell his story.

    As much as he is cognitively able to recollect from his damaged brain.

  3. I think the United States can recuperate from one Trump Presidency. If we had presidents like Trump for 70 years in a row the country would turn into a third world hell hole. Despite the current rudder-less situation the USA still has a lot going for it. But if I had a choice I would prefer to be in Canada or Australia

  4. “Net immigration from Mexico is close to zero.” Well, I’m half guessing those that wanted to come, already have, no?

    Opinions – everyone has one. And for the record, millions still want to come here.

  5. I don’t think it’s the problem it’s been made out to be for political purposes. But it is an issue. Borders, the rule of law are necessary in order to live in a civilized nation. Every OTHER nation has them — why are the liberals insisting we shouldn’t? Mexico’s immigration laws are very strict and are very strictly enforced, as are Canada’s, and so are their work visa regulations. Yet we’re supposed to shrug and look the other way?

    Plenty of people want to come here and are coming here, and they want to come here because of our capitalism.

  6. In my opinion, illegal immigration if not really a major problem. Net immigration from Mexico is close to zero. Net immigration from Canada is very low with most people going in the opposite direction. The Department of Homeland Security has made illegal immigration via plane nearly impossible. The way things are going in this country who the hell wants to come here anyway?

  7. I don’t know the particular details of the case you mentioned. For many decades, San Francisco has had a reputation as a special place where people who have been persecuted, oppressed and unwelcome in other places can have a chance to live and work. It might be an accident of history . SF had a big naval base and navy officers who were discharged for being gay stayed there and attracted other gay people who would have been ostracized elsewhere. And the United States does have some policies allowing people from other countries who would face extreme torture or persecution elsewhere to stay in amnesty. In certain cases the local police may give protection if they have such information on a person, usually they go through the proper procedures.
    In my opinion there is way too much emphasis on illegal immigration in the United States. Net immigration from Mexico is close to zero. There are approximately 11 million Mexicans in the US, about half of these are illegal, it is a very small percentage of the population of over 330 million people

  8. I already did. And you again are shown to be a liar. You claimed you had me blocked. I figured not, but no surprise there. In fact, I quoted you in the message you claimed to respond to by blocking me. Quoted you rather extensively with added analysis.

  9. I can go through this kook’s history and show time after time that she has done the same thing. Anytime someone backs her into a corner, proves she is wrong, catches her in a contradiction, she goes to really nasty, and false insults, belittling, and trying to assert herself over them. Yes, I call people bigots, racists, and such, when it is CLEAR that they are these things. It’s really not hard to spot them.

  10. Ah, but I know quite a bit. I know that you are very right wing, that you are a defender of rapists, that you are Roman Catholic, that you cannot handle being challenged, and completely lose it if shown to be wrong, that you are married, that apparently you married your boss…I can go on and on.

  11. I don’t claim to have one. And you show no sign of having one. Of course, I suppose you could have bought a fake one online. But no, you don’t show any sign of being a lawyer.

  12. Now, let’s look at this logically….

    This from the nutcase who, when defending rapists, claims to stick to the presumption of innocence. And add to that, this is a nutcase who claims to be a JD, i.e. have a law degree. Such a person would understand that the prosecution has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and the defense has to prove NOTHING until they do that. And interesting choice of words. “No strong evidence. The defense has barely presented its side of the case, mainly in response to prosecution evidence, and what they have done is poke some rather large holds in what the prosecution claims. The prosecution showed a video that shows the shooting, but does not remotely show Zarate standing up, or raising the gun to fire. But that does not fit this kook’s agenda.

  13. And yet, this fruitcake totally lost it when I made a joke about the BLM agent getting promoted because he helped Trump get elected. Granted, that was after she got caught in a lie.

  14. Since she claims I am blocked, I will simply suggest that anyone who does not understand this read her comments here, and elsewhere. This is how she always responds to disagreement.

  15. That’s fine. You have been exposed for the nut case you are. I will continue refuting our claims, whether you want to see it, or not. Run along and hide.

  16. There is no strong evidence whatsoever that his is not guilty of pulling that trigger. Not an iota, actually.

    You’re a sick, sick woman. Sick. You are seriously mentally ill.

    You’re also now blocked because you’re a crashing bore.

    Howl to the moon, lady. Your sort is dead and dying out. Biological solution. Buh-bye!

  17. My mother passed away in 1988. I have news for you, I am almost certainly older than you are, probably old enough to be your mother. Your condescending attempts to take control are amusing, but childish. Again, I don’t buy that you have a JD, at least not one you earned honestly. I have had friends who were in law school. On their advice, I took a business law course that was pretty much taught as a first year contracts course. I also took constitutional law, and both criminal law, and criminal evidence. At the time, I was considering law school, but the more I learned about the practice of criminal law, the less interested I became. I had dreams of defending wrongfully accused men and women, not trying to plea bargain someone out of facing what they had actually done. Ironically, I wound up in computers, because, well, it was what I had a natural talent for.

    You would not have survived law school with your forensic skills. Shoot, you would not have survived the business law class I took. Try watching Paper Chase. When I saw it, I was rather amazed. It was very similar to that class. Including the part where the main character screws up. I saw exactly that sort of thing happen a few times.

  18. No, you are used “weasel words” as they say. And no, your agenda is not justice. Your agenda is far right. And you defend rapists. And racists. That is fact. You are all for denying rape and racism, but in this case, you are desperate to argue that he is guilty in spite of strong evidence to the contrary.

  19. Was it painful when they removed your sense of humor? And actually, since the president is the head of the executive branch, he could do exactly that. Not overtly, but a phone call would have the desired effect. That aside, seriously, you claim to be educated, have a JD, and you have no understanding of humor or sarcasm?

  20. Actually, you were, and as I point out, this is a very common tactic of yours. And I do know how to read in context. That’s how I learned what a nut case you are.

  21. How about we next take a look at how often you employ that sort of tactic? That seems to be your go to attack.

  22. ROTFL! You have been exposed. You are a right wing kook, and not at all a nice person. You defend rapists, and show serious ignorance. Drop the arrogance.

  23. No…you just made the condescending remark, “If you cannot limit your comments to the facts of the case, you should go elsewhere. Plenty of other topics here and at other sites to discuss.” And YOUR BEHAVIOR is what implies that you might well be a “white supremacist.” I mean, you claim to have a JD, but deny any knowledge of the history of accusing black males of being a threat to the purity of “white Southern maidens.” Uh, no…that seems more than a bit off. Oh wait, did you go to that diploma mill run by Pat Robertson? And you really are going for the ever popular strategy of those on the right of trying to “flip the script.” Everyone else is racist, not them, because everyone else hates white people because the are to with supremacists. And no, I did not vote for Trump. I also did not vote for Clinton. I chose a write in, who was registered in California. so my vote counted, and I did not violate my conscience. You are the other hand, almost certainly voted for Trump.

    For example, there is this comment from you on a thread about a baker objecting to making a cake for a gay marriage:

    “And this will lead to blood in the streets. If 2016 showed us anything, it showed us that people are fed up with the activists pushing and pushing until they’ve destroyed anyone who does not march in lockstep with them. Thankfully, we have the guns…”

    Seriously? I actually side with the baker. I have gay friends who side with the baker. But “blood in the streets?” And your remark about having the guns? You are clearly a kook. And that sure sounds like a far right extremist. I wonder what else I can find?

    Oh, this one, in a discussion about a black man apparently faking KKK graffiti:

    “I just assume these things are hoaxes now. These, and the supposed attacks on Muslims.”

    Right….that makes it real easy. Unfortunately, it is more often NOT fake. And that raises the probability of your being a white supremacist or perhaps you prefer, white nationalist quite a bit.

    Oh, and you seem to have a problem with women not wanting to be raped:

    “The point is that, yes, it’s unethical, immoral behavior, but if both adults are consenting and consent is the standard rather than an objective moral standard, well, anyone can claim harassment or assault long after the fact. That’s a problem — and it’s a problem for women because it’s part of this BS “rape culture” thing that is making a lot of people skeptical and cynical about rape claims these days.”

    Really? BS “rape culture?” I bet you think the judge who gave the Stanford athlete a break after he raped a woman on campus was right. No wonder you claim you don’t know about the history of accusing black men of being a threat. My daughter was raped. A very close friend of mine was raped. I’ve had a couple of close calls myself. Seriously, you are quite a character.

    And this one really exposes your true nature:

    “As for women who are using the hashtag dishonestly, well, we’ve certainly seen enough exposed false rape claims over the past several years to know that there are indeed women who lie about rape, who falsely accuse men of rape. I’ll stick to the innocent-until-proven-guilty standard this country’s criminal justice is based on. And I really don’t believe women who come out decades after the fact when they no longer have anything to lose and everything to gain by doing so.”

    Ah, how interesting…you stick to “innocent until proven guilty” if a man is accused of raping a woman, but you don’t when it is a highly questionable case involving an undocumented immigrant. Oh, you are a piece of work.

    This is fun! Want to play some more? Oh, and I don’t suffer fools well. It is a really bad idea to make me mad. Especially when you have a history of being a kook, which you do.

  24. The reason is they want to interfere with any action the federal immigration authorities take. Authority to do one’s job is different than a municipality actively thwarting their efforts, and subverting their actions.

    People jumping to his defense should pick a different poster boy for the Sanctuary City policies. A 7x convicted felon who’s done time for drug convictions and multiple illegal reentry, having been deported 5 times? Is there nobody somewhat less objectionable?

  25. Well, unless you went to an online law school, and cheated, I am not buying you have a JD. No, you are not smarter than me. Your hysterics in response to my request for a citation show that. You tried to bluff, and the result was not pretty. Oh wait, please don’t tell me you are that kook that was Mirkarimi’s neighbor! The one who could not pass the bar exam. That would make perfect sense.

  26. You made an unsubstantiated claim that has not appeared anywhere. The BLM has refused to state what was done. I asked you for a citation to prove your claim, which is a reasonable request, and you lost it. You went into a tirade, and I pointed out your reaction. You are resorting to absurd and hyperbolic levels of ad hominem. I mean seriously, simply asking for a citation rises to dangerously insane levels of hysteria. I am perfectly calm. You are the one having a total meltdown. You are caught, and you cannot deal with it. Now, again, provide a citation, or all will know you are a liar. It is a bit too late to admit a mistake after this show of pure panic.

  27. Well, yes, these things have a way of becoming referendums on other issues — the OJ trial, for example. That tends to happen when something is very wrong with the status quo or the system. Sanctuary cities are problematic. Immigration is a huge national issue.

    And you mean anti-ILLEGAL immigration, not anti-immigration. I’m pro-immigration, but I am anti-ILLEGAL immigration. Huge difference.

  28. No one called him a major drug lord. I have used specific terms with specific legal meaning.

    My agenda is justice, which means we speak the truth about his convictions. The truth is that they are felony drug convictions involving heroin, including a manufacturing charge.

  29. Gee, every assumption you make is utterly wrong. Hmm. What does that tell me about your education? Oh, right — you haven’t got one.

    That your ONLY comments at this point are merely sixth grade level schoolyard name-calling tells me all I need to know about you.

    You are either a very dull child or you’re a mentally unstable adult.

  30. SFGate is appalling because the Chronicle is notorious for bad reporting.

    I’m much smarter than you, and far, far better educated than you. Where’s your JD from, dear?

  31. No, I have not been caught in a lie. I have not made a false claim.

    You just don’t know what you think you know.

    You’re also reaching dangerously insane levels of hysteria. Calm. Down. Discuss like an adult, or run along to bed, child.

  32. Ah, busted!!! Hoist by your own petard. You got caught in a lie, and now you are using insults, and arrogance, to try to dig yourself out. You made a false claim. You can’t back it up. You are desperate and are trying to bluff to cover it up. Sad, really sad.

  33. You like to sound smart, but your comments to this point have shown that it is an act. Yes, SFGate is appalling, because it is populated by right wing kooks who don’t try to pretend to be oh, so genteel. And journalism in general is in decline. I can only assume that the Chronicle is too cheap to hire reporters with actual degrees.

    You need to drop the act. You are not that smart. You have made ignorant comments that show you either don’t understand what you have read, or you simply ignored it.

  34. Your rather silly attempt to assert dominance is amusing. It tells me you have nothing, and you know it. You got schooled. That, or you are a white supremacist and think you can con people into ignoring history. In any case, I am going to enjoy taking you down.

  35. I was half joking when I said you needed to learn about sarcasm. I guess I was wrong. It is beyond your understanding. That, or you are desperate. Ever heard of Dunning Kruger effect? I think you are the second best example of it I have seen online.

  36. Yes, along with several other colleges. It is an excellent school. Students from City College have gone on to places like Stanford, and CalTech. Did you know that City College has a number of P.hDs among the faculty. Including a close friend of mine who studied at Oxford? You’ve heard of Oxford haven’t you? I am guessing you are some pampered rich kid who’s daddy bought her way into some name school. Where you managed to barely make it, or perhaps dropped out. Or more likely a graduate of Liberty or Bob Jones.

  37. Wow! You are hilarious. While I would, by no means, defend his involvement with heroin, he was not, as you try to imply, a major drug lord. You are trying to distort the truth to fit your agenda, which is clearly far right.

  38. You were the one making an issue of the defense not presenting evidence. So, you are effectively admitting that you are simply spewing BS to skew opinions rather than offering facts. Got it.

  39. Would you want the Feds launching a major investigation to find the thief? Checking cameras, looking for possible witnesses, conducting an intense forensic investigation of the vehicle? If the gun is quickly recovered, the case ends. If it was not found, they would be determined to catch you and lock you up in a very unpleasant prison

  40. There must have been a reason it was removed, you’re not hearing the whole story. This newspaper is obviously biased the way almost every newspaper has some degree of bias.
    That was my point in the degree to which this man’s case has become a political poster child for immigration . The more he is vilified by Conservatives and the press the more people jump to his defense.
    “Sanctuary city’ implies that there are somehow hordes of illegals being sheltered in secret hideaways or in garages and the police knowingly aid in this type of operation. The INS has the authority to do their job regardless of the local police in any district.

  41. They are utterly irrelevant to this case. If you cannot limit your comments to the facts of the case, you should go elsewhere. Plenty of other topics here and at other sites to discuss.

  42. I have read SFGate, which is an appalling source. The Chronicle’s journalistic standards have been circling the drain for years now. I’ve read the Times articles, various web resources, and spoken with knowledgeable people about the case.

    As for the rest, grow up.

  43. His felony drug convictions are factual information and speak to his callous disregard for human life, as well as his utter disregard for the law. Fact.

  44. I’m not making a fake claim and I owe you nothing in the way of citations. You have proved yourself to be a very troubled person.

  45. Was it painful when they removed your sense of humor?

    AFTER he had left his gun improperly stored in his car, there was not much he could do. The gun was not in a locked container that was attached to the frame or body of the car.

    The official PR flak response from BLM was basically, “He didn’t leave it sitting on the seat in plain view…” But yes, I agree, he violated policy, was sloppy, negligent, and short on common sense. And worse, this sort of thing happens a lot. In fact, a recent killing involving an undocumented alien also involved a gun stolen from an SFPD officer, and before that, a sheriff, who was terminated also had a gun stolen.

  46. I wasn’t aware that Trump personally hands out BLM promotions. Yes, he violated BLM policy, and was sloppy, negligent and short on common sense that should’ve been apparent to anyone with a firearm.

    What more should he have done after reporting the gun stolen?

  47. Again…I wasn’t arguing with you. If you steal a gun from a law enforcement agent then you must do whatever you can to get that weapon into a police lab as soon as possible. The sooner the better. Time is of the essence if the gun could link you to a crime. Find a way to get it to the police ASAP!

    No one can argue with your…um….logic.

  48. I haven’t read the comments at SFGate, but that’s not representative of much. I could look at any comment board on anything anywhere and learn what monsters liberals are, too.

  49. Gee, thanks for the primer. You defined sanctuary cities in the first line of your post, then say there’s no precise definition? The policy in SF is active non-cooperation and sheilding convicted-criminal individuals from any federal action whatsoever.

  50. Really? Citation please. From the Chronicle in July of this year:

    Bureau officials refused to comment Friday on the defense subpoena, saying they can’t speak about a case in litigation. They did not say whether Woychowski had been disciplined for the theft, or if any regulatory changes resulted from the incident.

    I have never seen anything saying he was disciplined. So, put up, or admit you are making a fake claim.

  51. He violated BLM policy, and broke the rules. The gun was supposed to be in a locked container, ATTACHED to the body of the vehicle, not in a back pack under the front seat. Perhaps he got a promotion because Trump wanted to reward him for his part in helping him get elected.

  52. If the gun was recovered, that would probably prevent a more intense investigation. The Feds would have put a lot of effort into recovering the gun, just as a matter of pride.

  53. You are, as they say, trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. His convictions involved several things, not just heroin. I am presenting factual information, that I obtain from legitimate sources. You apparently got yours from Fox News.

  54. I actually know something about the case. I researched the subject, and found a lot of details that most try to avoid (facts get in the way of blind ignorance).

  55. I realize you are not very bright, and are obviously either inexperienced in forensics, or you are desperate, but this is a comments section. Zarate’s trial is taking place at the Hall of Justice. My comment was in the context of the discussion here. Sorry that was too complex an idea for you. I would strongly suggest you looking into classes at City College. They do an excellent job of teaching critical thinking, though you might want to start with just “thinking.”

  56. Try reading other sources, like SFGate. And no, you would not be. In fact, you sound an awful lot like someone from SFGate.

  57. I think you are trying to deny the truth. Try educating yourself. The history of such things is well documented. I bet you also would claim that lynchings were ‘fake news.”

  58. No, that’s not what “sanctuary city” means, or more importantly, was created for. The police don’t have the manpower to “check everyone’s immigration status for getting a parking ticket or other minor offense” even in some police state. That’s absurd.

    Initially, municipalities wouldn’t cooperate with ICE agents because those they deported were being returned to war zones in Central America. It was never intended to be a shield against, or to aid and abet criminal activity, which the statute has warped into- whereby SF Sheriff’s law-enforcement officers are now removing DHS ankle monitors from violent felons’ persons.

    Crime happens in all countries – whether “most are home grown white guys” or not, isn’t an open-borders benefit because the number of illegal immigrant killings happen to be lower.

    The judge is indeed, wise to keep the media frenzy out of the courtroom as well.

  59. Woychowski immediately called police after he discovered his .40-caliber handgun, reportedly left in a bag in his vehicle, was missing.

    What more should he have done after that happened?

    it’s not his fault SF experiences over 85 (reported) vehicle break-ins per day.

    What if he had the promotion coming? He didn’t shoot anyone. BLM has been silent on whether he has been reprimanded.

  60. So we’re now supposed to feel sympathy or guilt for ‘some poor slob’ that takes a rap for a crime?

  61. He’s better off institutionalized somehow because he’s a walking target at this point. The taxpayers should not foot the bill for an illegal alien’s institutionalization, however.

    The fact remains that his repeated criminality led to the death of a citizen. That has to be addressed.

    And that’s the problem with sanctuary cities that spit in the face of the rule of law. We have borders and immigration laws for good reasons, just as every other nation does, including the most left-leaning nations you can name.

    Why is it that people expect us NOT to have them and uphold them? That’s ludicrous.

  62. If you can avoid the extreme emotions on both sides of this case it appears that Zarate has a serious drug problem and is probably mentally impaired to some degree. He might be better off institutionalized, but there are not enough humane psychiatric institutions to house people like this. In the US, you have a choice of luxurious drug rehab for the rich and hell holes for the poor

  63. Mental illness, unlike other illnesses is subjective and not clearly defined. Psychiatric diagnoses are made primarily by symptoms. Even with our advanced genetic and medical diagnostics, there is no clear cut determination of a mental disorder like there is a clear cut diagnosis of cancer or hepatitis.

  64. Not really. Sanctuary city just means that the local police don’t check everyone’s immigration status for getting a parking ticket or other minor offense. The INS and the Feds still come into Sanctuary cities and deport people. The sanctuary phrase is misleading.
    The number of people killed by illegal immigrants is miniscule compared to the people killed by home grown Americans most of them white guys.
    Bringing a media lynch mob after this guy just makes moderates and liberals jump to his defense even more, perhaps clouding everyone’s judgement. The judge is right to keep cameras and cell phones out of the courtroom, its an overly sensationalized circus already.

  65. The extremist faction of the Republican party who are hung up on immigration (which isn’t really a big problem in the US now) turned this man’s case into an overly politicized sensationalized media circus. Because Trump & co attempted to use him as a poster child for illegal immigration, he is now perceived as being persecuted by a right wing lynch mob. So naturally, people who hate Trump and everything he stands for jump to Zarate’s defense, and some are trying to portray him as a poor innocent baby. And there is always a natural human reaction to defend someone who is being unjustly crucified.
    Both sides may be somewhat blind to reality, but the anti-immigration zealots started it. They didn’t need to pass a law like Kate’s Law, in fact her family objected to the circus.

  66. I’ve never seen anyone refer to Steinle’s income. I’ve seen people refer to the fact that an upstanding citizen was shot down by a repeat offender, a known felon, who showed utter disregard for human life. I would be just as appalled if she were a POC, if she was unemployed and even if she was an illegal alien herself.

    You are coming from a place of severe prejudice.

    My words speak for themselves. Address those, not the voices in your head.

  67. No, it’s not. This is Zarate’s trial, not anyone else’s, and he will be tried on evidence, statements he made, witness testimony, expert testimony. He is not innocent because you and others believe there may have been injustices in the past.

  68. His actual felony convictions involved heroin, not marijuana. This is public record. You’re making a gigantic horse’s arse out of yourself. I find it pretty funny that you’re so hysterical and paranoid and so blind to factual information that is easily obtained that you’ve devolved into nothing but an internet troll.

  69. No, I’m not the one who is ignorant of court proceedings. The trial only began yesterday. Calm down. You’re hysterical. Learn to tolerate others’ opinions, ideas, experiences.

  70. You should read the comboxes at SFGate. Apparently, if you don’t think he’s innocent, you’re a Nazi, a bigot, a white supremacist and a racist. Seriously.

  71. If the defense offers a defense, they do have to substantiate and prove that defense, however. They have asserted the gun fired accidentally. Now they have to convince a jury.

  72. “The defense offered no evidence suggesting he did not pull the trigger or intend to shoot”: that is not their job. It’s the prosecution’s job to prove he’s guilty, not the defense’s to prove that he’s innocent.

  73. Right. That is a tough question: was it an innocent accident or a not-innocent accident? That’s why I’m puzzled that the prosecution is portraying it like he was trying to hurt Steinle.

  74. “I keep hearing how we’re all ‘racist’ for holding him accountable under the law.”
    I don’t keep hearing that myself. I think he should be held accountable under the law.

    But I sure do hear people from the White House on down who would really like to make him into the worst monster possible, to bolster their case that illegal immigrants are monsters in general.

  75. FWIW, I don’t think that he wanted to hurt anyone. Well, no human anyway. But from what I read legally all they need to prove is excessive disregard for the safety of others.

    There were a bunch of kids in Michigan this week who killed a driver by tossing rocks off an overpass. They also probably didn’t want to kill anyone but they are being tried as adults for murder.

    I assume that if you had found the gun you would have backed off and called the police.

  76. Yes, that’s right. If I needed to dispose of a gun I would definitely do it in a relative high volume touristy area. Because I would want it to be in police hands in a few hours.

    No putting it in a dumpster or into the Bay where it might never be found…I would want the police to have procession of the gun that I stole ASAP.

  77. t was a BS charge used to pile on

    Question, @Geek__Girl – do you actually know something about the case or are you just ‘improvising’ when you say that is was a BS charge???

  78. Are you that ignorant of court proceedings? The prosecution has offered no evidence. They made opening arguments. That is NOT evidence. The defense has made opening arguments. Again, not evidence. The prosecution has to prove their case, and they have made statements that I seriously doubt they can remotely back up with valid evidence. When they fail to do so, that will not set well with any decent jurors. If, as someone claimed, there is a juror who has already made up their mind, and who has talked about the trial in violation of their oath as a juror, then they still might vote to convict, but the other jurors may well decide to acquit, as they should.

  79. Wait, I’m agreeing with you. Why, when I heard people saying that the victim was young and attractive….I just couldn’t believe that such blatant racism still exists.

  80. Yeah, we have NO undocumented immigrant laborers working as dishwashers, busboys, construction workers, gardeners, etc. None at all. As to the gun, imagine you are a smash and grab artist working the wharf. You bust into a car, grab a back pack from under the seat, run off, and then discover that “OH CRAP!!!!” you just stole a Federal law enforcement officers gun. Yeah, it’s a valuable gun. Yeah, you might could sell it. And yeah, you might get caught with it, and spend a very significant part of your life in a Federal prison, and no, it won’t be the country club at Maxwell Air Force Base. So, you leave it someplace where it can be found, and either some poor slob takes the rap for stealing it, or it is returned to the Feds, and they don’t put any effort into finding you.

  81. I’m just telling you that he’d worked as a laborer, as per newspaper reports. We also know that he was homeless at times. What’s that to do with whether or not he was inclined to randomly murder? What are you proposing he came to the US for?

  82. No, not nice things, they are saying things designed to incite racist hatred. I grew up in the South, and I heard quite a bit about the threat of black men to “fair young Southern white maidens.’

  83. And 20 years ago, having a joint was a felony charge in many places. And the drug manufacturing charge meant that he had allegedly transferred a drug from one package to another. It did not remotely mean he was running an illegal drug manufacturing operation like Breaking Bad. It was a BS charge used to pile on. And I find it funny that you are pretty much, word for word, parroting what someone else said on SFGate.

  84. emotional BS spewed by certain types who carry on about how female, white, young, pretty, and well off, Steinle was.

    WOW! That IS serious BS. I had no idea that people were saying nice things about the victim. Lowlifes. Thanks for bring it to our attention.

  85. That is seasonal work. Lots of farm and other laborers migrate up and down the coast an beyond in search of work.

    The shooting took place on July 1. Try something else already.

  86. The racism has more to do with the emotional BS spewed by certain types who carry on about how female, white, young, pretty, and well off, Steinle was.

  87. Yes, he was a drug user (manufacture of drugs can include cooking a bit of crack, not necessarily running a lab. Don’t know what he did.) Yes, he sold $20 worth of pot 20 years ago. That’s illegal, though very common. That doesn’t make him a person who’d publicly murder someone for no reason, which is very rare. No one has claimed any violent act in his past, not a fistfight, not an argument, nothing. I haven’t seen anything murderous about him.
    The only thing his record has in common with the murder is that they fall within the vast field of legal felonies.
    As to the laborer angle, that’s what I read, is that he worked as a laborer. That is seasonal work. Lots of farm and other laborers migrate up and down the coast an beyond in search of work. If there’s no work at the moment, why wouldn’t he be in SF?

  88. Nor does his ethnic heritage. I keep hearing how we’re all “racist” for holding him accountable under the law. As if being Hispanic means the laws don’t apply to you or something.

  89. “Was very likely mentally ill”…? Yet he is fit to stand trial, is deemed to have been mentally well enough at the time of the crime to stand trial now.

    Unless you have evidence otherwise, this is a truly specious claim in an already highly-biased and unjournalistic take on this subject.

  90. His drug charges were felony charges, not misdemeanors, and one was a felony manufacture charge involving heroin. That shows intent to sell/distribute and that he would peddle heroin to others shows his disregard for human life. His continued breaking of the law, including his continued flouting of immigration laws proves a callous disregard for the law and for this country.

    Why WOULDN’T he shoot someone on a whim? He’d shoot their arm full of heroin on a whim, disregard the law numerous other times on a whim…he was completely lawless, completely callous when it came to the lives of others.

  91. I love the racist “Swedish” comment — evoking a blonde, blue-eyed, white, Nordic person is a deliberate attempt to inject race into a crime that has absolutely zero to do with race.

  92. The defense offered no evidence suggesting he did not pull the trigger or intend to shoot. They showed evidence that the bullet ricocheted after it left the gun, but that doesn’t indicate anything about the manner in which the gun was fired. It’s quite conceivable, quite reasonable, to envision a scenario in which Zarate intentionally fired the gun AND the bullet ricocheted. Both/and, not either/or.

    From what I’ve read about this case, from Zarate’s original statements, witness accounts, from discussions with gun experts, I have yet to see one shred of evidence suggesting anything but that Zarate, a known felon, a man who has proven he has nothing but contempt for the law and for human life, intended to shoot that gun into a crowd of people.

  93. Look, he was convicted three times for heroin possession and manufacture of drugs in Washington State. Another time in Oregon. He took pills that he found in a dumpster the night of the shooting.

    Yet you want us to believe that he was in San Francisco, Washington and Oregon, with his second grade education and no knowledge of English, to find work as a laborer. At one of the many lettuce farms in San Francisco no doubt.

    We’re already being asked to believe that the tooth fairy left the valuable gun on Pier 14 where it was certain to be discovered within hours.

    So can’t you work with us just a little bit if terms of plausible stories?

  94. If you own a firearm or lethal weapon and carelessly leave it somewhere then you bear some responsibility if someone else uses it. If your dog kills someone you can be charged with a crime. Why isn’t the gun owner being held to any degree of responsibility?

  95. He sold $20 of pot, possessed heroin, and huffed solvents, with charges all 20 years old or more. He crossed the border illegally four times to work as a laborer. You can call him “showing contempt for our laws” if you want, but that doesn’t sound like a guy who’d shoot someone on a whim.

  96. “If a college kid or a Swedish tourist had been involved,” he asked the jury, “would he be charged with murder?”

    Of course they would.

    If a college kid or Swedish tourist had a well documented history of showing contempt for our laws with multiple felony convictions, if they had been deported several times and kept returning anyway, if they threw the gun into the Bay and fled the scene…well, then, yes. They would be facing the same charges.

    Yes, Zarate was here illegally with a long list of felony convictions. But that does not give him any type of immunity if he is then involved in a heinous crime.

Comments are closed.