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Defense to call first witness in Kate Steinle murder trial

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Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, right, is lead into the courtroom by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, left, and Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia for arraignment on July 7, 2015. (Michael Macor/2015 San Francisco Chronicle via Pool)
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The defense for an undocumented immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle is expected to call its first witness Monday in the murder trial that ignited a nationwide immigration debate.

Matt Gonzalez, an attorney for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, told reporters last week that he would call as many as seven witnesses to the stand, including experts in firearms and video surveillance.

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Garcia Zarate is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting Steinle on July 1, 2015 on Pier 14. The case hinges on whether the shooting was intentional or an accident.

President Donald Trump has used the killing to call for a crackdown on sanctuary cities.

Garcia Zarate is an undocumented Mexican citizen who San Francisco released from jail before the shooting instead of handing him over to immigration authorities for deportation.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday after two weeks of testimony. The prosecution and defense have both left politics out of the trial.

Prosecutor Diana Garcia called a retired police investigator who testified that Garcia Zarate shot the gun in Steinle’s direction before it ricocheted in a straight line and struck her.

Gonzalez has said that a firearms expert he calls will testify that the bullet could have bounced sideways in her direction when it ricocheted.

Garcia also showed jurors surveillance footage taken from a quarter mile away of Steinle falling on the pier when she was shot.

Gonzalez has said that the surveillance footage also shows a group of people standing on the pier before Garcia Zarate arrives. He claims that Garcia Zarate found the gun on the pier, and that the people could have left the gun there.

Gonzalez is expected to call a witness who analyzed the footage.

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