SFPD firearms expert testifies in Kate Steinle murder trial

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The attorney for Jose Inés Garcia Zarate will ask the judge in the Kate Steinle murder case to allow the jury to test the gun.

"I have handled this very firearm, this trigger pull is extremely light, that's why I am so confident that I would like the jury to be able to handle it. And anybody who believes that the gun cannot fire accidentally, I have no doubt that would settle it," Defense Attorney Matt Gonzalez told reporters outside the courtroom Tuesday.

Gonzalez has argued that Garcia Karate found the gun wrapped in a piece of cloth, under a swivel chair on the pier and it went off accidentally. Gonzalez said, even if the trigger got caught in a piece of clothing, the gun could go off.

TIMELINE: How the Kate Steinle case unfolded
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The trial begins in the case that ignited a national debate on sanctuary cities and illegal immigration.

A firearms expert with the San Francisco police department said Tuesday that while this particular Sig Sauer P239 has no external safety lever, it has safety mechanisms internally to prevent an accidental firing. Andy Smith was the person who examined and tested the gun when it arrived at the crime lab, the day after Steinle was killed.

Smith test-fired a bullet from the Sig Sauer to compare it with the one that killed Steinle. He also measured the force of the trigger-pull two ways - one in single action mode, the other in double action mode. When the gun is in single action mode it means the gun is cocked, the hammer is pulled back, ready to go.

When a gun is in double action mode, it means that the trigger cocks the gun and then releases the hammer. It takes a lot less force to fire a gun in single action mode.

Steinle was killed on July 1, 2015 while she was walking with her father on Pier 14. The gun in the Steinle case had been stolen four days before the shooting from a federal park ranger's car.

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