Fa­tal bul­let ric­o­cheted, ex-in­ves­ti­ga­tor tes­ti­fies

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - PAUL ELIAS

SAN FRAN­CISCO — A bul­let that killed a San Fran­cisco woman in 2015 ric­o­cheted off the ground about 100 feet away be­fore hit­ting her in the back, a re­tired po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor tes­ti­fied Mon­day.

For­mer of­fi­cer John Evans said he and other in­ves­ti­ga­tors work­ing on the case found a “strike mark” on the pier’s con­crete sur­face four days af­ter the shoot­ing of Kate Steinle by a Mex­i­can na­tional who had been de­ported five times — a case that touched off a na­tional de­bate about il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors had over­looked the mark on the night the 32-year-old Steinle was killed, said Evans, who later re­tired from the de­part­ment.

Au­thor­i­ties re­turned to the pop­u­lar pier four days later, af­ter the bul­let was found to be par­tially flat­tened, in­di­cat­ing it had ric­o­cheted, he said.

Lawyers for de­fen­dant Jose Ines Gar­cia Zarate say the ric­o­chet shows the shoot­ing was ac­ci­den­tal.

Prose­cu­tors have charged Gar­cia Zarate with mur­der, al­leg­ing he in­tended to shoot at pedes­tri­ans on the pier on July 1, 2015.

De­fense lawyer Matt Gon­za­lez ques­tioned Evans over whether the bul­let had trav­eled straight, which would sup­port the pros­e­cu­tion’s con­tention that Gar­cia Zarate aimed the gun be­fore fir­ing.

Evans con­ceded on cross-ex­am­i­na­tion that he didn’t know ex­actly where Gar­cia Zarate was sit­ting when the gun fired, nor did he know the spe­cific spot where Steinle was stand­ing when she was struck.

Prose­cu­tors and Gon­za­lez said the case boils down to whether Gar­cia Zarate pointed and fired the gun in­ten­tion­ally or whether the weapon ac­ci­den­tally dis­charged.

The shoot­ing sparked a po­lit­i­cal furor dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race. Gar­cia Zarate had been re­leased from the San Fran­cisco jail about three months be­fore the shoot­ing, de­spite a re­quest by fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties to de­tain him for fur­ther de­por­ta­tion pro­ceed­ings.

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