Following a ruling today, Reuters reports that Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez will stand trial on murder and weapons charges against him.
The 45-year old felon says he was "wandering on Pier 14 after taking sleeping pills he found in a dumpster," when he found and discharged, he says accidentally, a gun — killing 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle. As CBS writes, Judge Brendan Conroy has heard enough during a preliminary hearing to order a jury trial.
Lopez-Sanchez insists the shooting was accidental, with his lawyer, public defender Matt Gonzalez, drawing on the testimony of a ballistics expert who says the bullet may have ricocheted off the ground before hitting Steinle in the back.
Prosecutors, however, maintain that Lopez-Sanchez — sitting in a swivel chair — actively chose to shoot in Steinle's direction. Police inspector John Evans has also claimed the bullet was traveling in a straight line.
Lopez-Sanchez had been deported from the United States to Mexico five times and was most recently in jail in San Francisco on a warrant for a decades-old marijuana offense. When that warrant was dismissed, the sheriff's department released him.
Overshadowing the question of gun control, Steinle's shooting death has sparked fierce debate over immigration and regarding San Francisco's status as a "sanctuary city," one that doesn't seek assistance from the federal government in deportation efforts. The City is one of hundreds of such municipalities.