The accused man in the Kate Steinle shooting trial, which will begin jury selection on August 21, has until now been going by the name Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez. This, it turns out, is one of a series of aliases he has used, and defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said Tuesday in court that the 54-year-old defendant's name is, actually, Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, and that is the name listed on his birth certificate. As Bay City News reports, it's also the name that has been used in previous federal cases in which he was accused.
This makes for a bit of a confusing paper trail, media-wise, given that this story dates back two years in which we've only known Garcia-Zarate as a man named Lopez-Sanchez. But there you have it.
"He’s going to trial facing life in prison, we think he should be called by his true name," said Gonzalez, per CBS 5, adding that it is not uncommon for immigrants who have crossed the Mexican border multiple times to have multiple aliases, and to be referred to by different names by law enforcement.
As you surely know, Garcia-Zarate stands accused in the July 1, 2015 fatal shooting of 32-year-old SF resident Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14. Since early on in the legal process, Gonzalez, Garcia-Zarate's public defender, has asserted that the bullet that killed Steinle appeared to have been a ricochet, and that her death was accidental. More recently he has contended that the gun used in the shooting, which had earlier been stolen out of a Bureau of Land Management agent's vehicle, has a reputation for having a hair trigger.
Within days of the shooting, the revelation that Garcia-Zarate had previously been convicted five times for illegally crossing the border and had drug charges on his record led to this case becoming a flashpoint in the sanctuary city debate, which it will continue to be.