Kate Steinle murder trial: Defense rests after court interpreter expert testifies

Thursday, November 09, 2017 07:23PM
On Thursday, the defense in the People vs. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate trial called investigator with the San Francisco Public Defender's Office in to testify.


SAN FRANCISCO - When I'm covering an arraignment or trial, I can't help but admire the court interpreters.

How are they able to translate so quickly and efficiently? Even though I am fully bilingual in Spanish and English, my brain doesn't process things that quickly. Besides, how do they know all the legal terminologies in both languages? Court interpreters go through a very lengthy and rigorous program to be able to do what they do.

On Thursday, the defense in the People vs. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate trial called an investigator with the San Francisco Public Defender's Office to testify. Fanny Suarez is also a former certified court interpreter with years of experience. She has even taught others how to master that profession and was brought in to highlight inaccuracies made by the translator during the police interrogation of Garcia Zarate in the early morning hours of July 2, 2015, several hours after Kate Steinle was shot.

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For example, according to the transcripts, a police officer asked Garcia Zarate in English: "You pulled the trigger correct?" The translator then asked Garcia Zarate, "¿Usted, apuntó y disparó la pistola?"

If you translate that, the person is asking the defendant, "Did you aim and fire the gun?"

The defense argued these are two different things.

"He is not a court-certified interpreter, that's ok we understand, however, there were shortcomings in that translation that everybody needs to pay attention to because as Ms. Suarez said, words matter," defense attorney Matt Gonzalez told reporters.

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The jury will be able to review a copy of the entire police interrogation in the deliberation room.

Now that both sides have rested, the prosecution may or may not call rebuttal witnesses. If the prosecution does, then the jury will be back on Monday. If the prosecution decides not to, then the closing arguments will begin on Monday, Nov. 20, the week of Thanksgiving.

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