Defense attorneys for Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez said during a preliminary hearing on Wednesday that ballistics evidence proves that the illegal alien did not intend to kill 32-year-old Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier on July 1.
According to the Associated Press, a San Francisco medical examiner and a police inspector testified that the bullet fired by Lopez-Sanchez ricocheted off of the pavement before striking Steinle in the back as she was walking with her father.
Lopez-Sanchez, who had been deported from the U.S. five times and was released from jail in April under San Francisco’s sanctuary policies, stands charged with murder. A judge will determine if there is enough evidence against Lopez-Sanchez to maintain those charges.
Matt Gonzalez, who is representing Lopez-Sanchez, argued Wednesday that the ricocheted bullet indicated that his client did not shoot Steinle intentionally.
Michael Hunter, a San Francisco medical examiner, said Wednesday that the shape of Steinle’s wound — which was rectangular — indicated that the bullet had ricocheted. A typical bullet wound is oval-shaped, according to Hunter.
A San Francisco police inspector testified Wednesday that while the bullet ricocheted, the trajectory of the bullet indicated that Lopez-Sanchez was aiming at Steinle.
Lopez-Sanchez has said that he found the gun, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber, wrapped up in a t-shirt on Pier 14. A ranger with the Bureau of Land Management reported the same gun stolen in June.
According to the Associated Press, Gonzalez said in court that Lopez-Sanchez “mishandled” the gun.
But a San Francisco police ballistics expert said that the gun was in good condition and would not have been prone to an accidental firing.
“Pulling the trigger, however that trigger was pulled, was the only way for that gun to discharge,” the expert said. “This gun could not just be sitting on a table and all of a sudden, due to some malfunction, go off.”
Steinle’s death set off a national debate about sanctuary city policies like the one that allowed Lopez-Sanchez to be released back onto U.S. streets. Because of the city’s liberal policies, the San Francisco sheriff’s department refused to honor a detainer request that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had filed for the seven-time felon. The federal agency intended to deport Lopez-Sanchez for a sixth time.