The undocumented immigrant charged with murder for the killing of a San Francisco woman on an Embarcadero pier in 2015 appeared in San Francisco Superior Court on Friday morning, but the beginning of his trail remains some time off as no judge has been assigned to the case.
Still, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 54, asserted his right to a speedy trial Friday, said Tamara Aparton, a spokesperson for the Public Defender’s Office.
Lopez-Sanchez allegedly fired the gun whose ricocheted bullet struck San Francisco resident Kathryn Steinle, 32, in the back as she walked down Pier 14 with her father on July 1, 2015.
Lopez-Sanchez’s role in the killing sparked controversy almost from the start because of his immigration status and San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, which came under fire from inside The City and out.
Chief Deputy Public Defender Matt Gonzalez, who is representing Lopez-Sanchez, has said the gun his client was holding went off by accident. The gun had been stolen from the car of a Bureau of Land Management agent.
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Lopez-Sanchez had been released from County Jail months before Steinle’s death after the charges were dropped on a years-old drug possession warrant. Requests for information about his whereabouts from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were denied by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, per city policy regarding undocumented immigrants who have not committed or been charged with a violent felony.
Then-Sheriff’s Ross Mirkarimi defended his department’s actions at the time, saying that The City’s sanctuary policies and federal court barred him from working with ICE on such cases.
More than two years later, the case is still garnering national attention.
Most recently, the House of Representative passed “Kate’s Law,” which would increase sentences for undocumented immigrants who illegally return to the country, as Lopez-Sanchez did.
Lopez-Sanchez is set to appear at 9 a.m. next Friday in Department 22.
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