The second and third day of the Kate Steinle murder trial brought witness testimony from those who saw the shooting and its aftermath, and the police officers who first responded to the emergency call at Pier 14 on July 1, 2015, and the officer who made the arrest of murder suspect Jose Ines Garcia Zarate.
Officer Raymond Ortiz, with the SFPD's CSI unit, explained the layout of the crime scene to jurors Wednesday, showing them photos of what the pier looked like that night and where Garcia Zarate was seated, on one of the pier's swiveling chairs, when he allegedly shot Steinle in the back. Following Ortiz's testimony, the officer who arrested Garcia Zarate, officer Andrew Bryant, described finding Garcia Zarate on the scene. Per Fox News' report, he said Garcia Zarate looked "like deer in headlights" when he saw the scene, and started walking away. He then ignored Bryant's order to stop, and only did after he was ordered to the ground by a plainclothes police officer.
The defense argued that in the process of arresting Garcia Zarate, officers may have transferred gun residue onto his hands, potentially resulting in a false positive identification later. Officers said that they placed Garcia Zarate's hands in plastic bags specifically to prevent any gun residue from coming off.
This follows testimony from Michelle Lo, an eyewitness, yesterday, who said that Garcia Zarate was "grinning and laughing" in the swivel chair prior to the alleged murder. Lo later heard "a very sharp scream" and saw Garcia Zarate walking away. On day one of the trial, Steinle's father, Jim Steinle, gave an emotional account of what happened that night. He described being on the pier with his daughter, when she suddenly fell to the ground and couldn't breathe. According to the prosecution, Steinle's last words to her father were, "Help me, Dad."
Update: Also on Wednesday, as CBS 5 reports, grainy surveillance footage was shown of the entire shooting and its aftermath, which the defense used to point out the extreme distance between Garcia Zarate and Steinle when the shooting occurred.
These are going to perhaps be the most dramatic days of witness testimony in the trial, as we already know that a key piece of the defense's case is going to be delving into the technical, forensic aspects of the gun that killed Steinle and whether or not the bullet that killed her ricocheted first off another surface which would support Garcia Zarate's claim that the shooting was accidental.
The case remains a flashpoint in the debate over immigration and sanctuary cities across the US, thus it is receiving daily coverage this week from the likes of CNN and Fox News. You may recall that in the weeks after Steinle's death, as Fox News seized on the story of Garcia Zarate, who had been deported multiple times and recently arrested for a minor drug offense before the shooting occurred, a reporter from the network came to SF City Hall and tried to confront then Supervisor Scott Wiener, who called the network "a fringe propaganda machine."
Judge Samuel K. Feng has already instructed jurors in the case to leave the immigration debate off the table in deciding Garcia Zarate's guilt or innocence, and similarly to leave the gun control debate out of their deliberations as well.