A key phase of jury selection started Monday in the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting a woman on a busy San Francisco pier, in a killing that set off a fierce national immigration debate.
Mexican national Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was deported five times, has admitted to fatally shooting 32-year-old Kate Steinle while she walked with her father on a San Francisco pier crowded with tourists.
He has said the shooting was accidental and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.
Earlier this month, lawyers summoned hundreds of potential jurors to fill out questionnaires to help narrow the selection pool. On Monday, 160 jurors reported to the San Francisco Hall of Justice for questioning, according to San Francisco Superior Court spokeswoman Megan Filly.
The chief attorney for the defense, Matt Gonzalez, said he’s expecting to form the jury from Monday's group, but there are challenges to finding fair-minded people in such a high-profile case.
"I think we’ve given up the idea that we’re going to have a jury that doesn’t know anything or hasn’t heard anything about the case," Gonzalez said. "And I think we’re looking for jurors that have heard about the case but will base their decision on the evidence presented to them."
Gonzalez added that he’s looking for "authenticity" in jurors’ responses.
Media members were not granted access to the courtroom.