SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Monday is technically the third day the jury sits down to decide the fate of defendant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, but is the first full day of deliberations in the trial for the murder of Kate Steinle.
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Last Tuesday and Wednesday were half days before they recessed for the Thanksgiving holiday.
When the jury broke for lunch at noon, it was as if we were given permission to finally breathe.
Monday morning, we know the jurors had a few questions for either the defense or prosecution because all the parties were called back into the courtroom. Typically, the press is also allowed inside to hear the question and answer session. Not this time. According to Anne Donlan, the spokesperson for the San Francisco Superior Court, the request was made by the attorneys to keep us out of the courtroom.
Judge Sam Feng agreed to the request. "I don't know why they did that," said Donlan. Reporters were speculating that perhaps because this is a high profile case, the attorneys are trying to limit the information that is disseminated.
Once the jury announces they have reached a verdict, everyone will have 30 minutes to come back to the courthouse before it is read. A spokesperson for the Steinle family told me they will not be there when the verdict is heard.
The family says it does not want to further politicize this case. Steinle's death has become part of the immigration debate in this country. Garcia Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, had been repeatedly deported and had several non-violent felony convictions.
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Garcia Zarate's attorneys have argued that on July 1, 2015, their client picked up an object at Pier 14 which turned out to be a stolen gun and that it went off when he handled it hitting Steinle in the back. The prosecution has maintained that the 45-year-old had the gun with him all along and wanted to fire it at people. Kate Steinle and her father, they say, were the closet targets.
Garcia Zarate has been charged with second-degree murder, but the jury is allowed to consider first-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. He can also be found not guilty.
The trial began on October 23, 2017.
Click here for full coverage of the Kate Steinle murder trial.
No verdict after three days of deliberation in Kate Steinle murder trial
PIER 14 SHOOTING
Federal judge delays gun possession trial against Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, acquitted of killing Kate Steinle at SF Pier