SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The judge in the Kate Steinle murder trial told the members of the jury, "You are the sole judges of the evidence. We're almost there."
Judge Samuel Feng began the lengthy process of instructing the jury in the trial of the People vs. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate. The jury was reminded of the charges against the defendant, murder in the second-degree, assault with a semi-automatic weapon and possession of a firearm. The members of the jury were reminded that they can also find Garcia Zarate guilty of first-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter or come up with a not guilty verdict. The judge also told them to not let bias, sympathy, race, etc. influence their decision.
The instructions were then followed by the prosecution's closing arguments which lasted 70 minutes. "A vibrant life was taken away because of this man's actions," Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia told the jury as she pointed at the defendant Garcia Zarate." The prosecution was adamant that on the night of July 1, 2015, Garcia Zarate had the gun concealed, pointed it at Kate Steinle and her father and pulled the trigger. The prosecutor then said that Garcia Zarate went to Pier 14 because it was a target rich environment. "He knew people were there and he had his own secret version of Russian Roulette," she argued.
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During her power-point presentation, Diana Garcia showed a selfie taken by Steinle which included her father and a friend. At that point, Jim Steinle took a deep breath, shook his head, then looked down. Kate's mom, held back tears and closed her eyes.
The Defense is expected to present its closing arguments this afternoon and will insist that Garcia Zarate found the gun at the pier wrapped in a piece of cloth under a swivel chair, picked it up and it accidentally fired hitting Steinle in the back. But before it struck her, the bullet ricocheted and traveled another 78 feet.
The gun used to shoot Seinle was stolen in San Francisco from the personal vehicle of a Federal Park Ranger four days before the shooting. The agent works for the Bureau of Land Management. The Steinle family is suing the bureau.
If found guilty of second-degree murder, Garcia Zarate faces 15 years to life in prison.
The cased gained notoriety because Garcia Zarate is an undocumented immigrant who had been deported several time and had a number of felony convictions. Steinle's death became part of the immigration debate in this country. During his campaign, President Donald Trump criticized San Francisco for its sanctuary city status.
Click here for full coverage of the Kate Steinle murder trial.
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