SAN FRANCISCO - When I started working as a TV News Reporter for CNN Spanish in 1989, I quickly learned an important lesson: a journalist never writes the story before interviewing the subjects.
If you do, you'll come to the interview with specific questions in mind, to "fit your story," instead of allowing the person to answer questions truthfully and without prompting.
On Wednesday in court, Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia tried to make that point.
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She questioned the video enhancement expert hired by the Public Defender's office about surveillance video taken of Pier 14 before and after Kate Steinle was shot. The video was taken from a distance, about a mile away, and it's grainy and you can't make out the people in it.
You know it is Steinle walking with her father and that her alleged shooter is some 90 feet away because of the timeline. The expert, Paul Endo, testified yesterday that there were six or seven people on the pier, sitting in a chair or congregated where the defendant, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate sat later.
The defense has suggested that those half a dozen people left the gun under the chair and that Garcia Zarate found it minutes later.
The assistant DA today tried to establish that the expert reached a judgment before even looking at the video. There's nothing really wrong or unethical about that, after all, he's being hired by the Public Defender's office at $175 per hour.
Still, Garcia tried to convince the jury that when you come to a conclusion before you look at the evidence, you miss things. It's like a horse with blinders on.
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Two more witnesses were brought in this morning by the defense: a young man who was at the pier when Steinle was shot and a sergeant who interviewed witnesses.
Sgt. Conroy Tam of the San Francisco Police Department spoke to another witness, Michelle Lo, the night of the shooting.
According to that report, Lo said nothing about Garcia Zarate laughing while sitting in the chair. But at the beginning of the trial, on Oct. 24, Lo testified that she saw the defendant "laughing at himself."
Two more witnesses are expected to take the stand this afternoon: another officer and an expert in Sig Sauer guns. The defense will try to establish that the Sig Sauer has been known to go off accidentally.
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