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Murder Trial Related to ‘Kate’s Law’ Begins
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Kates Law

Summary: The murder of a San Francisco woman that brought about the immigration bill ‘Kate’s Law’ has finally begun after two years of delays.

The murder of a San Francisco woman that spurred President Donald Trump to create an immigration bill in her name is in the middle of controversial issues regarding illegal immigration. Trump and a number of Republicans are using the bill as an example of why sanctuary cities are a bad thing and a border wall is necessary. If the bill passes, it will increase maximum prison penalties for immigrants caught multiple times entering the country illegally.


The woman, Kate Steinle, was killed over two years ago, and the man that pulled the trigger is finally set to face a jury. The opening statements began Monday for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate’s, formerly known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, second-degree murder trial. Zarate is an illegal Mexican immigrant with several aliases that has been caught a number of times entering the United States illegally. He was caught a few hours after Steinle was shot. She had been walking along a San Francisco pier in July 2015 with her dad. She was shot in the back, the bullet piercing her aorta.

Her father took the stand first to recall the horrific moments when Kate collapsed in front of him. He detailed how he couldn’t tell what was wrong with her until a passer-by suggested turning her over. He said, “You could see the bullet hole.”

The issue making the case such a controversy is that Zarate is a convicted felon who had already been deported from the United States five times before the incident happened. San Francisco, a sanctuary city, released him after arresting him on a marijuana charge but dropped the charges and released him instead of turning him over to the federal authorities.

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Zarate’s attorney Matt Gonzalez argues that the shooting was an accident. “There’s substantial evidence that it’s a complete accident. From our point of view, the bullet ricocheted off the ground.” He further goes on to claim that his client found the gun wrapped up in a T-shirt, which accidentally went off in his hands from where he was sitting on a bench near the pier.

The gun, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber, belonged to a Bureau of Land Management official. The gun had been stolen from his car.  Gonzalez argued that the gun is “known for having a hair trigger.” He also contends that Zarate has never been charged with a violent crime. Zarate was in San Francisco because federal authorities had brought him there for the marijuana charge. San Francisco immediately dropped the charge against him but did not return him to the federal authorities.

Gonzalez paints the picture of the typical immigrant searching for a better life. He said, “He is a simple man with a second-grade education. He came to the U.S. repeatedly because extreme poverty is the norm in many parts of Mexico. He risked going to jail so that he could perform a menial job that could feed him. Each time, he came to the U.S. because American employers openly encourage illegal immigration to full the jobs U.S. citizens don’t want.”

The other side has painted a different picture. Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia said back in 2015, “This was an act of random violence and the defendant claimed to have found this gun shortly before just firing it at somebody at close range, shooting an innocent victim in the back.”

The trial has had a number of delays. He pleaded not guilty during the arraignment.

Her family supports the measure but it’s overly thrilled about it being named after their daughter. The family tried to sue San Francisco and their former sheriff but a judge dismissed their lawsuit earlier this year. They blamed the city for Steinle’s death since they did not notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they were done with Zarate, releasing him instead.

The case continues Tuesday.

Do you think the immigration status of the defendant complicates the case? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about sanctuary cities and the case, read these articles:



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