An undocumented Mexican immigrant was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges on Thursday in the killing of Kathryn Steinle, whose death while out walking on a San Francisco pier became a touchstone in the national debate over immigration fueled by Donald J. Trump. The man, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, who was also found not guilty of assault with a firearm, was convicted only of being a felon in possession of a firearm. …Now admittedly, I had not followed the case as I have had other things in my life to do and trust me on this, following such cases and writing blog entries on them is very time consuming. Just see my series on Sean Bell or Trayvon Martin. The reason I make this note is because I was unaware that the defense was claiming that the defendant had been trying to shoot a seal and the bullet hit the ground and then struck Steinle.
Ms. Steinle, known as Kate, a 32-year-old medical equipment saleswoman, was walking along Pier 14 in San Francisco when she was struck by a bullet and collapsed into her father’s arms. Mr. Garcia Zarate acknowledged firing the weapon, but said it was an accident. Evidence was presented in court that the bullet had ricocheted before striking Ms. Steinle.If we take this story at face value and assume it to be true, then we cannot be surprised that there was a not guilty verdict for anything that required criminal intent. I've posted this many times before but we cannot assume that homicide=murder. Murder is a charge of mens rea. Lacking that you can only rise to criminally negligent homicide, sometimes called manslaughter. This is important because Zarate is on record having admitted to firing the gun in a public space. Generally speaking one cannot discharge a weapon in a public space for reasons other than self-defense and not be charged with a minimum of reckless endangerment. Since Zarete had already confessed to discharging the weapon, we know that he was being reckless. My understanding is that the defense lawyers, probably seeing that this argument would get their client convicted made a new argument that Zarate had accidentally discharged the weapon because the weapon had a "hair trigger". I have seen persons more familiar with guns that I am say that such an argument is weak at best because there is supposed to be some kind of drop test for such arms and that the weighting of the trigger on that model does not fit with the defense claims. I cannot say either way about this because I am unfamiliar with firearms. Therefore I will stay with the "I tried to shoot a seal" statement and base the rest of the post on that. So having discharged a weapon in a public space in blatant disregard for the safety and lives of others, Zarate should have been found guilty of criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter. Period. For the jury to not have returned such a verdict means that we have an epic case of jury nullification. Mind you am I NOT OPPOSED to jury nullification. As a matter of fact, I think that as a consequence of this verdict (among other things) that until the states and federal government gets it's act together, that citizens refuse to convict other citizens of any crime or tort brought by the state or non-citizens short of murder. If "our" government refuses to properly enforce the law, then so will we. Jury nullification is legal and it can cut both ways. Having said that, I think that the larger issue is not whether the jury gave the Steinle family the finger in an apparent attempt to "resist Trump", it is the fact that her killing could and should have been prevented. We know that his convicted felon had been deported no less than 5 times. We know that the agencies charged with enforcing the laws of the land acted to protect a known felon and illegal migrant from further deportation. We know that the state of California and the city of San Fransisco conspired to protect this felon. THIS is the real problem. As I have written before:
I'm going to focus on Sessions here. Since the campaign we have seen unprecedented levels of political violence mostly by leftist groups. We have seen a level of lawlessness, where governors and mayors have openly violated immigration law or stated their intent (which is what is needed for criminal prosecution) to violate immigration law. Various govt. officials have brazenly told police under their watch to allow persons designated "nazis" to be beaten and to have their constitutional rights violated. All of this has happened with mice level peeps from Sessions. This is unacceptable. Where there is a lack of law, lawlessness escalates.Where are the RICO charges? Why are these cities and states still getting federal money? It's easy to point at the jury. It's even easy to point to the officials in the city and state but ultimately it is the failure of the big dogs in Washington, you know, the ones who put troops on the ground to get desegregation done, to put the smack down on these cities and states that is the real problem. And I'm not letting Trump off the hook here. The AG reports to and serves at the pleasure of the president. If I read the 1789 law establishing the position of AG The executive can direct the justice department to drop the hammer on California. He hasn't done so. Why not?