Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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Kate Steinle murder trial begins

The murder trial of the illegal alien who shot and killed Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco began today. In the prosecutor's opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia said the killer aimed toward Steinle and knew what he was doing.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, said he shot Steinle in the back while she was walking with her father down a San Francisco pier in July 2015, but he argued that the shooting was accidental.

He said he was handling a gun that he found wrapped in a t-shirt under a bench on the pier when it accidentally went off.

Zarate's lawyer told reporters before the trial that his client didn't know that he had picked up a gun and that it went off as he unwrapped the shirt.

Attorney Matt Gonzalez said:

"He did not know the object in his hand was a gun. He does not bear criminal responsibility."


Zarate had been deported 5 times and was homeless in San Francisco when he killed Steinle. He had just finished a prison sentence for illegal re-entry when he was transferred to the San Francisco County jail for a 20-year-old marijuana charge.

That charge was dropped and the San Francisco sheriff let Zarate out of jail despite a federal immigration request to detain him at least two more days for deportation.

The handgun belonged to a Bureau of Land Management ranger, who reported it stolen from his parked car in San Francisco just one week before Steinle was shot.

Zarate was originally known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez when he was arrested, but attorney Matt Gonzalez says he prefers to be called by his birth name "Zarate."

Click here to read more at NBC Bay Area.

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