Zarate's Steinle Acquittal Wasn't Only Murder, It Was Any Culpability

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of even involuntary manslaughter, which means the gun alone killed Steinle.

Call it prosecutorial incompetence , call it jury nullification, or call it San Francisco. You cannot claim, however, that the jury had no opportunity to find Jose Ines Garcia Zarate guilty of a crime less than murder.

It's really a terrible verdict, considering the needles that had to be threaded for this to approach a threshold of coherence.

The jury found Zarate guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The facts that the firearm discharged and the bullet killed Steinle are not in dispute. Therefore, to make the argument that he isn't guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the jury would have to conclude that the gun fired itself independently of Zarate's handling it.

The trigger literally had to pull itself.

Even Zarate admits he fired the gun, albeit accidentally. He didn't claim that he found the gun, put it down and it spontaneously aimed and fired itself, in order to ricochet the bullet into Steinle.

The verdict to find Zarate guilty of one thing that implies the other, but innocent of the charge that is implied by the guilty verdict defies logic and coherence. That leads me to believe the jury was either confused, stupid, or hated guns to the point of imbuing them with mystical powers to kill on their own.

As Jim Geraghty observed :

I’m reminded of another cynical joke, this time from Dennis Miller: “How comforting is it to know that as a defendant in our criminal justice system, your fate is being decided by 12 people who were not smart enough to get out of jury duty.”

Zarate got a friendly jury. If this had happened just about anywhere else, he'd have been at least convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He also got a break from the prosecutors, who focused almost entirely on the murder charge, which would have been hard to stick even in a gun-loving conservative jurisdiction. Sarah Rumpf writes in RedState :

So, we have a defendant with zero connection to Steinle. He had a history of drug crimes but no known violent crimes. The bullet that killed Steinle hit the ground and then ricocheted upwards. There was a video possibly showing another group of people disposing of the gun where Garcia Zarate said he found it.

The prosecutors didn't want to argue for involuntary manslaughter. They didn't want to complicate the case, or maybe they thought they had a better case for murder (if this is true, they don't deserve to keep their jobs).

Or maybe, they figured Zarate deserved to get the shortest sentence possible, to hoist the middle-finger at President Trump. Whatever motives you ascribe to the prosecution and the jury, the verdict is still incoherent. The gun was convicted of the crime while the criminal was convicted only of being associated with the gun.

Does that make any sense at all? Not to me.

If the perp were a white male - especially a conservative - and the deed daughter a liberal activist, the verdict would've been guilty. This is about race, protecting future voters (illegal aliens), and sticking it to Trump.

Oops, dead daughter.

Look, the politics of the region wanted this guy to go free. That's all that needed to be said.

I wonder how the people on the jury would feel if it was their daughter?

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In one sure stroke, MarkBerwind has hit the nail on the head. A successful prosecution on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, or negligent homicide, or any such indictment that placed responsibility on the defendant would leave SF and CA wide open to a federal charge against one or both of those entities of criminal negligence, and culpability in Kate’s death.
In the meantime, I would hope that someone at DOJ is looking into possibly charging the SF DA with prosecutorial misconduct. And if the jury was working within the confines of the judge’s instructions, charge him as well.

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Anybody know the make and model of the gun in question? If it was a double-action revolver, the likelihood of accidental discharge approaches zero. Did any competent gunsmith examine the firearm in question to determine whether any damage existed that could possibly cause the thing to fire without pressing the trigger?

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Thanks, ached_nape! You added a few things I wasn't considering, also. San Francisco was just flipping a bird finger at the federal government with that jury verdict. It was all meant to be, and done, in defiance of justice. California may have also fired a proverbial shot in a very dangerous way that could lead into a civil war, if it isn't handled properly. California is out of control, every bit as much as they, and others, think Trump is. Not good, at all.

The Mayor, the Police Chief, and other city officials should be arrested by

@Paco-Valdez Erick reported last week the firearm was a Sig Sauer known for a hair trigger and lax safety features. It is probable the firearm could discharge due to casual or unsafe handling. Does not change the fact he possessed it illegally and could have been found guilty on a host of other charges such as reckless endangerment, discharge of a firearm in public, etc. They could have thrown the book at this guy, if they wanted. But @ached_nape has it right: they found him guilty of the charge that would not allow the powers that be in SF get roped into a federal case.

Mrnobodysays. "Hair trigger" is an imprecise term that refers to an unusually light trigger pull; the term is usually ascribed incorrectly to a "set trigger". Never heard of Sig handguns' reputation for lax safety. I understand it was stolen from a federal agent who likely had strict rules about safe weapons. My point is that the prosecution should have had a competent or "expert" gunsmith examine the pistol and testify whether the gun was altered or damaged in a way to cause accidental discharge; otherwise their incompetence is manifest. If Mr Zarate handled the firearm in a "casual or unsafe" manner, he meets the definition of involuntary manslaughter.

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