The trial of an undocumented homeless man charged in the killing of 32-year-old Kate Steinle continued Monday with testimony from the San Francisco police officer who collected evidence that showed the bullet ricocheted.
John Evans, a retired police inspector who worked on the Steinle case, began to testify in the morning that he searched the ground of Pier 14 for a bullet strike mark after the medical examiner pulled a flattened bullet from Steinle’s body, indicating that the round bounced off a hard surface before hitting her.
“We were intent on an exhaustive search to find a bullet strike somewhere in the area,” Evans said in court. “We found a small, smooth, concave strike mark.”
Matt Gonzalez, an attorney for defendant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, has used the fact that the bullet ricocheted to argue the shooting was accidental. President Donald Trump pointed to the shooting during his presidential campaign while characterizing undocumented Mexican immigrants as criminals.
On Monday, Evans began to describe the difficult task of tracing the path of the bullet that struck Steinle on July 1, 2015. Investigators had just one fixed point to figure out the bullet trajectory — the divot in the ground of Pier 14.
Evans said they had to generalize where Steinle stood when she was shot from the blood and bloody clothing that she left behind. As for the position of the shooter, Garcia Zarate is said to have been sitting in one of the chairs on the pier. But the chairs swivel 360 degrees.
“We don’t have a fixed point where the bullet originated from,” Evans said.
Evans’ testimony is expected to continue Monday afternoon.
Earlier Monday, another San Francisco police officer testified to transporting the alleged murder weapon to the police crime lab from the marine unit near Fisherman’s Wharf.
Officer Glenn Juco said in court that he picked up the Pelican Case with the handgun and murky water inside after police divers recovered the weapon from the San Francisco Bay near Pier 14.
Garcia Zarate is accused of throwing the pistol off the pier after the shooting.
While questioning Juco, Gonzalez offered a more detailed description of the clothes Garcia Zarate was wearing.
Gonzalez said Garcia Zarate was arrested wearing two pairs of blue jeans, laces on just one of his two shoes and a single sock.
The questioning came after witness Lisa Strick testified that she saw the suspect run off the pier after the shooting. Video and previous testimony have shown that Garcia Zarate walked off the pier.