In the Kate Steinle murder trial Thursday, the prosecution conducted an unexpected demonstration in court as it tried to establish the defendant's intent to fire the fatal shot.
Before prosecutors rested their case against Jose Garcia Zarate, 45, their lead investigator took the weapon and the clothes Garcia Zarate wore the night of the shooting and showed the jury how the Sig Sauer handgun could have been concealed in his pockets. The gun barely fit inside the jeans Garcia Zarate was wearing when Steinle was shot in July 2015 on Pier 14 in San Francisco.
"So whether the gun was concealed in the clothing of the defendant is relevant to whether he intended to pull the trigger, and that is the evidence you saw in court," said Alex Bastian, spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.
The demonstration immediately drew red flags from defense attorneys.
"There are a lot of pockets that gun could fit in," said Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney for the Public Defender's Office. "But this is a new theory that they’re putting forward, and as I pointed out, they never bothered to test the pockets for gunshot residue."
Lead investigator Anthony Ravano then said Garcia Zarate didn’t shoot the gun through his pocket.
Ravano also faced pointed questions about federal Ranger John Woychowski, who apparently got a pass on all investigative questions related to his stolen weapon.
"The decisions were made with a judge, and the judge makes a ruling on what’s relevant and what’s not relevant," Bastian said. "That is done through a process, and those relevance issues were all hashed out before this trial."
Gonzalez said the prosecution conducted an investigation with "kid gloves," trying not to do anything that could incriminate the officer. But with Garcia Zarate they didn’t bother to watch important videotape evidence that could corroborate his story.
Gonzalez was referring to video of the pier the defense shared, showing a group of people around the same seat Garcia Zarate ultimately sat in 30 minutes prior.
On Thursday, Ravano told the court he watched the video from around the time of the shooting onward. He said he believes Garcia Zarate could have found the weapon "anywhere but on the pier."
Steinle, a 32-year-old Pleasanton native, lived in San Francisco's South Beach neighborhood. She was walking on the pier with her father when she was shot.