Expert for defense in Steinle murder case raises questions about ricocheting bullet

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Accuracy is the ability to hit a target, but once a bullet ricochets, that accuracy goes out the window. That's the point that was made Monday by a firearms expert brought in by the defense in the Kate Steinle murder trial.

TIMELINE: How the Kate Steinle case unfolded

The lawyers for Jose INes Garcia Zarate brought in James Norris, who worked in crime labs in San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties.

First, he testified that the trigger pull of the gun used to shoot Kate Steinle was light, about four pounds when left in single action mode, meaning ready to fire.

"If someone were to try to grab it or catch it or if it caught on an article of clothing, it could discharge and we're talking about an extremely light trigger pull," Norris testified.

Initially, Garcia Zarate told police he found the stolen gun at the pier and that it went off when he stepped on it, but later admitted to holding the gun wrapped in a piece of cloth and examining it when it went of.

RELATED: SFPD firearms expert testifies in Kate Steinle murder trial

The prosecution has maintained that Garcia Zarate had the gun with him all along and that he aimed it at Steinle who was about 90 feet away, but then the bullet ricocheted 12 - 15 feet from where Garcia Zarate was sitting and then traveled another 78 feet -- striking Steinle in the back.

Norris was asked If a person could aim a gun at someone and accurately hit the target if the bullet ricocheted first. He said, not likely, adding that once it hits the pavement, the bullet then loses accuracy because it moves irregularly.

"Murder two is an intentional act," said Norris. "I.E., you pulled the trigger intentionally and in addition to that an inherently dangerous act where malice can be implied based on their behavior.

The defense is expected to wrap up its case by the end of the week.

Click here for more stories on the Kate Steinle murder case.
Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.