Prosecution portrays Garcia Zarate as sophisticated killer

Closing argument clashes with everything we have heard about the immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle

The prosecution in the trail of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate offered closing arguments today, portraying the homeless immigrant as a sophisticated criminal who carefully plotted to hide a gun in his pocket, choose a target on Pier 14, wait until nobody was watching, and fire the round that killed Kate Steinle.

“The evidence shows he had a gun, concealed it, and pointed it in her direction,” Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia said.

Prosecutor Diana Garcia tries to show that the gun would fit in the defendants pants. Drawing by Vicki Behringer

In a surprising move, the prosecutor asked Judge Sameul Feng to instruct the jury on First Degree Murder – and Garcia pushed that argument as far as she could go.

She said that Garcia Zarate was “sitting in a chair for 23 minutes, plenty of time for him to think about what he was doing. … He chose to go to the pier, to sit in a target-rich environment. … he was playing his secret version of Russian Roulette.”

She argued that he must have found the gun somewhere else, put it in his pocket, and brought it to the waterfront with a clear plan to harm someone. “This gun had value because it gave him power,” she said. “He wanted to fire this gun.”

She said that the defendant had waited until nobody was around him, so nobody could see him pull out the weapon. “The Steinles were the closest target. He chose the moment, and he chose the direction.”

The, she said, he fled the scene, heading for AT&T park, where there was a Giants game. Since he was wearing black, she said, he must have figured he could get lost in the crowd.

“He knew damn well what he did,” she argued. And then he fled the scene, tried to get away, and after he was arrested, consistently lied to the police about it.

The closing goes well beyond what the prosecution sought to portray in opening statements, which didn’t even hint at the idea that Garcia Zarate might have plotted to kill Kate Steinle.

And her argument directly contradicts pretty much everything we know about the defendant and the circumstances of the shooting.

Garcia Zarate has no history of violent crime. He’s never handled, much less fired, a gun, as far as we know. He has no prior arrests or convictions for assault.

The prosecution never offered a motive: Why would this guy, who was homeless, had a second-grade education, and had no history of trying to hurt anyone, suddenly decide to plot a murder?

Why, when he left the scene, did he sit on a planter about a mile away, where he was found by police?

I’ve watched the video of the police interrogation in the courtroom and heard the transcripts. It’s hard to believe he carefully plotted to kill anyone.

Matt Gonzalez, representing Garcia Zarate, told the jury in his closing that this case should never have been charged as murder. At worst, he said, it’s a manslaughter case, with no motive. In reality, he argued, it was a tragic accident.

“The is no motive,” he argued. “He didn’t know Kate Steinle.”

If he had intended to shoot her, Gonzalez said, “he missed by 78 feet. But for the ricochet, he never would have hit her. Can we say his finger was on the trigger because he wanted to do her harm?”

He told the jurors that “the prosecution goes deeper and deeper into a theory that they can’t prove.”

Gonzalez suggested that the death of Steinle was part of a terrible pattern. “In a country with 300 million guns on the street, somebody dies every day from an accidental discharge.

He went through the prosecution witnesses one by one, pointing out in every case that the jury would need to determine whether there is a reasonable doubt about the assumptions and implications of what those witnesses said.

The video of the shooting shows that Garcia Zarate was leaning down at the moment the gun discharged, Gonzalez said.

And since the defendant had only a tiny amount of gunshot residue on his hands – which could have been caused by contamination or by the gun discharging while wrapped in a rag or shirt – the jury will have to determine if “there is reasonable doubt that the gun was wrapped in something,” the defense lawyer said.

Gonzalez focused on the video that showed six people congregating around the chair where Garcia Zarate would later sit. “This is not an imaginary possibility, not the gun-fits-in-his-pocket-so-he-got-it-off-the-pier,” he said. “This is actual evidence.”

Gonzalez will finish his closing argument tomorrow, then the prosecution will get to rebut. The case should go to the jury by mid-day.

  • playland

    She said that Garcia Zarate was “sitting in a chair for 23 minutes, plenty of time for him to think about what he was doing

    Those 23 minutes are a problem for the defense/48 Hills case. Their story is that Zarate sat down, and, being homeless, bent down to find out if the t-shirt bundle beneath him was something of value. Then the gun went off.

    But apparently he waited 23 minutes before examining the package. Not impossible but it sort of pushes an already improbable scenario well over the edge into abject fantasy.

    Gonzalez focused on the video that showed six people congregating around the chair where Garcia Zarate would later sit. “This is not an imaginary possibility, not the gun-fits-in-his-pocket-so-he-got-it-off-the-pier,” he said. “This is actual evidence.”

    Absolutely. Evidence that six people went to hang out on Pier 14 in the mid afternoon. Not sure what that proves.

    • Geek__Girl

      No, they are not a problem for the defense at all. The time he sat there before noticing, or picking up something from under the seat are not of any great relevance. Clearly, he bent over right before Steinle was shot. He might have waited until he was going to leave to pick up what he found here. The prosecutor claims he looked at Steinle, as though he was planning to kill her, having chosen her from the crowd (fully a figment of Garcia’s imagination) and yet, a moment later he is looking at a boat. And the video shows he as not sitting up, or aiming the gun. He was bent over. That is totally consistent with the accident theory, and not remotely supportive of the prosecutions fantasy. Garcia seems to have gone off the deep end.

      And I see you still can’t help but create straw man arguments. It only shows one possibility about how the gun might have wound up there. We don’t know how long it sat there. Keep in mind, this is primarily a tourist spot. How many tourists are going to pick up an old cloth or t-shirt under a seat to see what it is? A homeless person, who is used to looking through trash cans to find cans, yeah, but not a tourist.

  • Y.

    Did either side say anything about his past record, or was that disallowed?

  • Guys and gals … read this?

    Amazing thing to me was that the judge refused let ADA Garcia’s star witness back on the stand for rebuttal of the Defense experts because there was this screaming headline saying that unfortunately, the man’s credibility …

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/key-witness-prosecution-kate-steinle-trial-faces-police-misconduct-claims-federal-court/

    h.

    • Rosh HoshHosh

      48hills broke that story a day before the examiner. That was a bishop to C5 move by Gonzalez. Garcia’s next play was to introduce murder 1 (queen to C2).

      Michael Barba at the examiner has had excellent coverage (cool you could help him in the hallway that day).

      • Thanks, Rosh,

        I love watching the new writers blossum. I wrote to Barba’s corporate offices and tried to get them to send him to Mexico and Zarate’s beginnings.

        Of course, no one has such a budget anymore.

        Lotta good young writersand I wish I could subscribe to a group including Eskenazi and Matt Smith and Matt Taibai and Matt Gonzalez and David Talbot and …

        h.

        • SF Sunset Guy

          You tried I wrote and tried to get them to send him to Mexico and Zarate’s beginnings.

          Why? Why does this guy deserve such efforts and a position of concern? I’m really baffled about how Zarate is such a myrtar and to what ends or cause.

          • Sunset Guy,

            Trump made the case a big story. San Francisco added layers in our reflex reaction to render aid to the downtrodden.

            I think it’s very important that we seek to understand this man’s story. I set out to go to where he began and retrace his route/s but it was far too dangerous.

            Here’s a link to the best documentary on the subject in my opinion. It’s still behind a pay wall cause it stars one of Mexico’s top stars.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLpjNGm3PNw

            h.

          • SF Sunset Guy

            while Trump did seize upon this story for political purposes (which is to be expected), SF shouldn’t be in the business of aiding and abetting criminal activity – which the Garcia Zarate case, in good measure is about. The SF Sheriffs Department is, like other city agencies, complicit in aiding and abetting criminal activity in the city they purport to serve and keep safe. They removed an ICE issued ankle monitor and released another known felon on to the streets who then killed someone. The entirety of the Sanctuary City ordinance has either outlived its usefulness or had morphed into a public policy disaster without direction, distinction, or both.

            Zareate is a 7X convicted felon who has been deported five times. A woman is dead because of his negligence, which I think is more important than his “story”. If one is going to highlight the downtrodden, please choose someone more deserving.

          • Sanchez Resident

            Saint Francis would not have choosen one over another. All downtrodden are deserving.

          • SF Sunset Guy

            Chosen what exactly? Deserving of what? This isn’t St Francis’ mission anymore.

          • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

            Lol – got a point there!

    • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

      Hey, h – did the judge even allow evidence to be presented to the jury showing that Evans likes to use his lies to put people behind bars, or was that swept under the rug by J. Feng?

      • Hey Worried,

        Gonzalez got in a phrase of something like … this witness will say whatever it takes to convict the defendant …

        Thing is, I don’t recall if it was in summation or something he said in the hall to the thoroughly herded press. One day we went through metal detectors on two floors 6 times (!!) for less than 10 minutes in the courtroom.

        Judge Feng made it uncomfortable as he possibly could for the press and public.

        He refused, without explanation, any number of motions to include evidence and witnesses favorable to the Defense.

        He’s an Arnie appointee and he runs his courtroom as you’d expect.

        Don’t get snowed by the corny jokes and chocolates.

        When the rubber meets the road Feng counts on the court of Appeals to render justice by correcting the lousy job he did in this trial.

        Still, it was a fascinating adventure starting with the 5,000 mile road trip along the entire Mexican border and back.

        The jury’s out 2 1/2 days now and I’m betting they tossed out Murder One in minutes and Murder two in another day. They are probably trying to turn what was clearly an accident into a crime to please the judge.

        That would mean a conviction on involuntary manslaughter?

        They won’t do it.

        Too much integrity there. You could see it from Day One.

        Their foreperson is some kind of scientist/doctor from UCSF/

        I saw this same scenario in a murder trial Gonzo did in 2013 and the defendant was found not guilty of any charge.

        Judge Carol Yaggy gave the guy 6 months anyway on a bogus charge.

        I sat in and did thumbnail sketches of some of the other judges while Feng had us wandering the halls for hours.

        What’d I see?

        I think Progressives could unseat 20 of them in their next cycle.

        I know it’s rare but we did it with Sandoval and we can do it again.

        For a fair trial, you need fair judges.

        Go Giants with Shohei Ohtani!

        h.

        • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

          Thanks for the information h.

          Yet another blunder that could reverse a conviction on appeal.

          If J. Feng, on his own motion, dismissed the case for prosecutorial misconduct, due to the John Evans Brady violation, I bet it would stick on appeal…

          While the DA’s Office says they don’t make credibility determinations due to allegations made in civil lawsuits (nice try Alex Bastian), they clearly dance around their bad behavior.

          Whether the facts were alleged in a civil lawsuit or not, they are still facts.

          Facts like (all under oath):

          1. Evans testified under oath that bullets typically end up in front of the shooter, thus making it possible for a prosecution witness to ID the defendant;

          2. Says there are studies that prove his assertion that the cartridges end up in front of the shooter;

          3. Says the study referred to was done by a fellow homicide cop he worked with;

          4. Admits that he based his opinion on the study even as he admits he never read it, relying on his relationship with the author – but the author testified he never discussed it with Evans.

          If confronted with the above statements, John Evans’ credibility would have been absolutely destroyed by the defense and the prosecution would have suffered a blow that would have ensured a not guilty verdict on all charges.

          Hey Alex Bastian: they may be allegations made in a civil lawsuit, but they are also statements made by John Evans under oath. You and the rest of the SF DA’s Office have to read Brady v. Maryland again. You’ve had 50 years since that case was decided and, apparently, you still haven’t figured it out yet.

          Hey Alex Bastian 2: and by the way, you probably haven’t even read the new California ethical rule regarding disclosures to the defense since you are so used to the wussy SF Judges being too scared to discipline your office, but you really should read that too (it makes Brady look like a walk in the park – no more hiding behind your cop’s file after that rule).

          • Happy ‘Hump Day’ campers!

            On the ground, it’s all about who get’s appointed to the Bench.

            Jerry Brown appointed Ross Moody and I consider Brown to be a conscientious and socially conscious appointing authority.

            Yet, he appointed this arrogant bully who has absolutely no concern for justice.

            He’s gotta get voted out of office.

            There are 52 judges on this court and 12 Commissioners.

            Don’t laugh, but we can and should vote 20 of them out of office.

            We just can’t trust the governors.

            Only chance we get to weigh in on them is when they are up for election on their own.

            There’s precedent.

            In 2000, we defeated 10 of 11 Downtown candidates for the new District Supe Board.

            h.

  • Rosh HoshHosh

    May justice prevail.

  • SF Sunset Guy

    “”Garcia Zarate has no history of violent crime. He’s never handled, much less fired, a gun, as far as we know. He has no prior arrests or convictions for assault.”

    There’s always the first time….

    A closing argument is the prosecutions way of nailing down their case, of course it’s going to sound dramatic, even theatrical.

  • Max Powers

    Why is Tim Redmond caping so hard for this person who killed somebody? This person whose excuse was that he was trying to murder a seal? As if that’s something any decent human being would do? Use a seal for target practice?

    • Rosh HoshHosh

      Possibly because there is more at stake than what ostensibly meets the eye. This case represents numerous failures within our justice and legal system.

      Failed immigration policies. Failed punitive deterrents. Failed drug policies. Failed prisoner release policies. Failed rehabilitative options. Failed gun policies.

      • Max Powers

        Meh.

      • Hey, you a big brain, huh?

        Yeah, I agree with you. Bigger picture includes Trump and his crap at the top but having spent 3 months walking around courtrooms at 850 Bryant and listening to the judges, they are a big part of the problem.

        This world center of Progressives has a judicial bench dominated by Republican appointees and they conduct themselves as you’d expect.

        • Rosh HoshHosh

          Thank you, mr. brown.

          I’m not exceptionally smart, but I’ve been through 850 many times. What I can tell you is this– people who have never been in the downward spiral have no idea.

          It’s my responsibility to help advocate where I can. Zarate has spent decades in the downward spiral and has only accumulated a couple of pissant convictions while doing so. He’s no murderer.

    • MKR

      I think everyone knows he fired the gun. The legal question is involuntary manslaughter vs premeditated murder or something in between. Big difference in terms of sentencing. Pre meditated murder usually involves some motive like love, money, revenge. It sounds like the man was High on drugs and the whole incident was a terrible tragedy kind of like someone killed by a drunk driver

      • Max Powers

        I still don’t understand why 48Hills is acting like it would be some tragic miscarriage of justice if this guy were convicted of something more than some legal scholars might think he’s guilty of.

        Somebody is dead who shouldn’t be. This man is no damned good. That he lacks privilege does not mean he isn’t a bad person.

        • MKR

          Probably because the whole case has been overly sensationalized and he was used as a poster boy for those who believe that immigration is a threat. A bad person? Its not really up to you or me to judge – you or I could have been in that situation also.
          Suppose I found a gun someone had dropped in front of me on the street. What would I do? Probably pick it up before someone else used it to shoot me. What if it went off when I picked it up even if I intended to bring it to the police station?
          What do legal scholars think he is guilty of? I haven’t heard any of them weigh in

          • Max Powers

            No, actually, he killed somebody. Any reasonable person would be completely within their rights to pass judgement on him.

            And no, I absolutely would never have found myself in that situation, because in the extremely unlikely event that I happened to find a gun and pick it up, I would make damned sure the barrel of that gun wasn’t pointing in the direction of any human or animal.

            It’s quite bizarre that you seem to have fully bought into the defense’s theory of the case. You think guns just “go off” because somebody randomly picks them up?

            Sounds to me like that gun must be possessed by demons or something, if it can fire without somebody pulling its trigger.

          • MKR

            I wasn’t there so I don’t know what happened and neither do you

          • Max Powers

            Yet you’ve apparently bought into the defense’s wildly improbably theory of the case.

          • MKR

            Not really. You started the conversation by saying you don’t understand why “48Hills is acting like it would be some tragic miscarriage of justice if this guy were convicted of something more than some legal scholars might think he’s guilty of.”
            I tried to explain the reason . You still don’t understand.

          • playland

            The reason that a wrist slapping decision would be damaging is that it would set a precedent for the “But officer, I just found that gun here and it went off by itself!” story. Lee Harvey Oswald could have used that story. Mark David Chapman? He saw the gun lying on W 72nd Street and just wanted to make sure that Yoko didn’t trip on it.

            Meanwhile it is extremely illogical to think that someone wanted to dispose of the gun so they left it in plain site on Pier 14, a few feet from the murky bay.

            It is extremely illogical to think that the gun went off because he was unwrapping a t shirt. Did they carefully wrap the t shirt around the trigger?

            And of all the possible directions that the gun could have been pointing…up, down, at Zarate, away from Zarate…wow. It was pointed horizontally right at some bystanders, albeit low vertically.

            And then he was so shocked by what happened that he disposed of the evidence, left the scene, and gave inconsistent statements when arrested.

            Any one of those you can possibly accept, but taken as a whole the defense story is a lot to try and swallow.

          • MKR

            Precedent isn’t really set as much in criminal cases as it is in justice’s briefs and opinions. Im sure people have tried to use that defense before. Zarate didn’t own the gun, he did find it somewhere. And he was not a marksman but an amateur so he could have made a mistake.

            Yeah, the defense story is pretty outrageous but also is the allegation that the guy wanted to kill someone he never met before, and would receive no money or reward and nothing but grief for. What is the motivation? The truth is probably somewhere in between

          • playland

            I personally don’t think that he wanted to kill anyone, but that he was handling the weapon with callous disregard for the safety of those around him. He was sitting there for 23 minutes and you could not possibly NOT see the gun when you sat down. The gun was knee height when it went off. How long does it take to realize that the thing you are picking up might be dangerous. The story that he just bent down to check out a t shirt and a gun went off can’t be taken seriously.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            You’ve cited no direct evidence that he handled the weapon with “callous disregard.” It’s your inference derived from circumstantial evidence.

          • MKR

            The jury probably won’t find him innocent of all charges

          • Morning campers,

            So, Garroppolo finally catches a break which unfortunately had to be on a body part of Beathard.

            And, fans boo his touchdown toss?

            On Zarate, there were only 12-15 witnesses and the ONLY one who said that the shooting had to be intentional was the one revealed to essentially, be a paid prosecution witness willing to ’tilt’ his testimony to fit any prosecutor’s charge.

            And, the judge kept that from the jury.

            Keeping in mind that the Defense only needs to prove ‘reasonable doubt’ in a criminal case and add that only witness willing to say that was the retired investigator with the great taste in neckties and a less picky definition of ethics.

            Bulldog guess?

            He walks on everything but Felon in Possession and that is shaky cause there’s a real possibility he didn’t know he was holding a gun.

            A tragic accident but an accident is not a crime.

            h.

          • Rosh HoshHosh

            Direct evidence indicates the pistol discharged while in Zarate’s possession. Direct evidence indicates he inadvertently discharged the the weapon.

            There is no direct or circumstantial evidence to indicate he purposely fired the weapon, or ever held it in a firing manner.

            Involuntary manslaughter.

          • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

            I’d say manslaughter would be a possibility if there was some evidence (other than the fact that Zarate’s pocket was big enough to fit the gun) that Zarate brought the gun with him to the pier.

          • Max Powers

            I understand you’re engaging in mental gymnastics to find a way of exonerating this man. He killed somebody. He is not a victim. Lots of people have mental illness and don’t kill somebody. Lots of people are homeless and don’t kill somebody. Lots of people are undocumented immigrants and don’t kill somebody. Lots of people are vilified by Donald Trump and don’t kill somebody.

            But you want to concoct these nutball ideas about how, if you found a gun in the street, you would pick it up before somebody shot you with it?

            Because you apparently think that’s something people do? Just randomly shoot you because they happened to find a gun lying on a sidewalk?

            Oh, wait, that IS something people do. People named Garcia Zarate.

          • MKR

            Not really exonerating anyone it’s not my place or yours either . People get killed in gun violence every day in this country so yes I would be worried about a stranger shooting me. Comments like yours are the reason you weren’t selected for the jury

          • Max Powers

            You think if a gun were just laying around n the pavement, there would be a high probability some stranger would happen along, randomly find that gun, pick it up, and murder you for no reason.

            And your fear of this happening would be so strong that you would yourself pick that gun up, lest that random hypothetical nut grab it first.

            Are you actually plagued by such irrational fears of such highly improbable events? I suspect not. I suspect this was all just an exercise in hypotheticals, your aforementioned mental gymnastics.

          • MKR

            Dude your comments are getting boring and repetitive . You asked a question and I answered. There are two sides to every story .

          • Max Powers

            OK, but your answers are insane. It’s as if you don’t understand how life and the world actually work.

          • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

            Mental gymnastics is required to believe he should be convicted. The fact that Zarate’s pocket was big enough to conceal a weapon does not prove malice or premeditation.

            Hate to bust you’re bubble, but, Zarate is highly unlikely to be convicted of anything, which is a good thing, because the prosecution has not proved he had knowledge that the object he was handling was a gun.

            That would be justice.

            Although you appear to have no idea what an accident is, the jury will understand, find him not guilty and the prosecution will have a snowball’s chance in hell of reversing the verdict on appeal.

            Good Lord – Dick Cheney would have gone to prison for attempted murder if your view of homicide was actually the law…

          • Max Powers

            OK, fine. He totally held a gun in his hand without knowing it was a gun, and the gun magically fired itself.

            This is not even remotely plausible, dude.

          • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

            I think it’s reasonable. I can imagine being curious about the shirt, or whatever clothing may have concealed the weapon and picked it up – especially if I was homeless and that’s how I got all my clothing. What if when he went to pick up what looked to him like a bundle of clothes and his finger did hit the trigger as he did so? That would be consistent with the evidence that the bullet hit the pier only ten feet from him. Could he really have formed an intent to kill in that instant?

        • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

          Max Powers said: “Somebody is dead who shouldn’t be.” Yes, that’s right. Accidents happen all the time, leaving someone dead who shouldn’t be.

          Max Powers also said: “This man is no damned good.” First of all, how the hell do you know that? Second of all, even if you had facts to back up that opinion, what the hell does him being “no damn good” have to do with whether he should be convicted of murder?

          Hey Max – I’m willing to bet someone somewhere think you are “no damn good.” I hope if you accidentally kill someone that person doesn’t wind up on your jury.

          • Max Powers

            I know this man is no damned good, because his excuse for why he killed that woman is that he was shooting at a seal. What kind of sociopath would think even for a second that using a gun to abuse or kill marine wildlife ::just for fun:: is a reasonable thing to do?

            Yes, yes, I am aware that the defense and/or 48Hills is claiming it was not logistically possible for him to shoot at a seal, but the defense and 48Hills are making a lot of preposterous claims, so I take that one with a grain of salt.

            And even if we grant them that claim, the fact remains that in Zarate’s mind, “I was using a gun to abuse marine mammals” is a valid excuse for anything.

            Surely you are aware that abusing and killing animals is a major red flag, and often correlated with the abuse and killing of humans.

          • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

            @Max Powers:

            “…but the defense and 48Hills are making a lot of preposterous claims…”

            Both the prosecution and the defense agree the bullet that killed Ms. Steinle hit the concrete pier 10 to 12 feet in front of Zarate and hit her only after traveling another 78 feet after the bounce.

            What is preposterous is the prosecutor’s claim that he intended to kill Steinle because he was spinning around in a chair and smiling, Steinle was young and beautiful and because Zarate was old and ugly – oh, and another weak ass fact shamelessly pimped by the prosecution is that Zarate’s pocket was big enough to hold the gun!

            That’s the prosecution’s theory.

            Even if you believed that the foregoing facts given by the prosecution were proved beyond a reasonable doubt, it is only circumstantial evidence of his intent to kill, while Zarate’s shooting the pier 10 feet in front of him while Steinle is 90 feet away from him is circumstantial evidence that he lacked the intent to kill. If you were a juror correctly applying the law, you would have to acquit on all homicide charges besides manslaughter due to there being a reasonable doubt that Zarate possessed malice or had the requisite intent to kill.

          • Max Powers

            And I suppose you have some way of explaining away his statement that he was shooting at some poor, innocent seal. Seriously, what kind of monster would ever think it’s ever remotely reasonable to use a seal for target practice?

          • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

            If I were a juror I don’t think I would pay much attention to that. It’s just something he said, it doesn’t mean he was actually shooting at a seal or that he believes in shooting seals. I think, if anything, he was trying to explain that it was an accident – that he didn’t intend to shoot Steinle.

    • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

      @ Max Powers:

      Do you think it is wrong to be forced to go to trial for 1st Degree Murder when a fair viewing of the evidence by an impartial judge in a light most favorable to the prosecution could only support an inference of manslaughter?

      Do you think it’s wrong when the presumption of innocence is set aside for the prosecution to play verdict games by hoodwinking the judge to instruct on 1st Degree Murder?

      Do you think it is wrong that Zarate – an innocent man – has been in jail for three years simply because the judge set bail based on the more serious charge of murder when the prosecution KNEW it could only present evidence that MIGHT prove manslaughter?

      Do you think it is wrong that the prosecution got a last second 1st Degree Murder instruction with the intent that the jury ignore the evidence and convict for one of the lesser homicide offenses all the while knowing that, pending appeal, Zarate would be serving the equivalent of a sentence for manslaughter that will probably be overturned?

      And finally…

      Do you think it’s wrong that the prosecution – by perpetrating the above BS – has violated its ethical duty to “do justice?”

      If you answer no to any of these questions, you better hope someone like me is on the jury if you happen to kill someone in a freak accident some day.

      • Max Powers

        Wait, you’re describing Zarate as “an innocent man”? Yes, I certainly do hope somebody like you is on my jury if I ever choose to fire a gun at somebody and kill them.

        You claim the judge was hoodwinked? Sorry we have so many gullible, naive judges out there. LOL.

        Is it wrong Zarate is behind bars where he can’t hurt or kill more people while waiting for trial? I’m not exactly losing sleep over that.

        It would be nice if he were to receive adequate mental healthcare while in jail, but that’s a separate issue.

        • worriedcriminaldefenseattorney

          “…you’re describing Zarate as “an innocent man”?…

          Yes, Max Powers, without a shadow of a doubt, Zarate is an innocent man.

          He’s innocent because the presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of the US Constitution (and expressly drafted into article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). As far as I know, the jury has not returned a guilty verdict and Zarate has not plead guilty. Therefore, at this moment, and at ever moment over the last few years in which he has been in jail on this charge – he’s innocent.

          “Yes, I certainly do hope somebody like you is on my jury…”

          Thanks, but I’m sure you’d be fine with anyone who understands:

          1) The presumption of innocence;

          2) What proof beyond a reasonable doubt means; and, relatedly,

          3) The principle that when a fact has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt by circumstantial evidence, and more than one reasonable inference may be drawn from it, one pointing towards guilt and the other towards innocence, the jury MUST choose the one that points towards innocence.

          “You claim the judge was hoodwinked?”

          Actually, probably not hoodwinked – I think he’s a very smart judge. He also understands the dynamic I stated in a previous post. It doesn’t really matter to the prosecution or the judge whether a conviction is reversed due to their errors – as long as the defendant is incarcerated while the appeal is made. And that’s plain wrong and indefensible – legally and morally.

          “Is it wrong Zarate is behind bars where he can’t hurt or kill more people while waiting for trial?”

          Yes it’s wrong because the presumption of innocence, in conjunction with the principles of bail, traditionally meant bail would be set in an amount that would ensure the defendant attended court and not set in an amount that the defendant couldn’t possibly pay. Yet, that’s what happens day in and day out in the courts of this country. Courts set bail with no regard for whether the defendant can pay it or not. That allows rich scumbags (no matter how reprehensible or dangerous to the public) to pay their bail and go home while pretty much everyone else has to sit in jail (while innocent).

          Zarate – who has no prior record for violence in his 54 years of life – has bail set at $5,000,000! That’s just plain wrong. The guy eats out of dumpsters for crying out loud – there’s no way he can even imagine paying that amount!

          I wouldn’t want that for you either if you were facing a dubious violent felony charge, had no history of missing court appearances and there was no hint that you were violent at some time in the last half century.

          “It would be nice if he were to receive adequate mental healthcare while in jail, but that’s a separate issue.”

          Agreed.