California Court Lets Kate Steinle’s Killer Off Scot-Free

The good news is that Donald Trump just won his 2020 reelection bid. The bad news is that the reason for Trump’s next election will once again be the total lack of justice for the late Kate Steinle. Ms. Steinle was shot in the back and murdered on the San Francisco pier in 2015 by an illegal alien junkie hobo who had been deported five times previously. Ms. Steinle’s murder was a galvanizing cry that was just one of the factors that carried Trump across the finish line in 2016. Here we go again.

Kate’s murderer – Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate – was found not guilty of murdering her by a jury of possibly retarded San Franciscans. At trial, he was convicted of a single charge of unlawful possession of a firearm. It was one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in modern history. But on the Friday before Labor Day Weekend in 2019 – very late in the day to avoid intensive media coverage – the California state Court of Appeals overturned that single gun charge. Kate Steinle is still dead and the man who pulled the trigger and murdered her is not guilty of anything, according to the State of California.

This case was a farce from start to finish. Garcia-Zarate’s taxpayer-funded legal team argued that the homeless illegal alien picked up a T-shirt off the ground and that a gun that was wrapped up in the T-shirt just “went off.” This is a lie because modern firearms only “go off” in one specific circumstance.

No matter how many afterschool specials, Lifetime original movies or Hollywood blockbusters use this plotline, you cannot mishandle a gun and make it “go off.” All firearms are rigorously lab-tested to ensure that they won’t accidentally “go off,” including the very straightforward “drop test” in which manufacturers load the gun and then drop it on the ground. You cannot gently nudge a firearm and make it “go off.” You cannot wrestle around with a firearm wrapped up in a T-shirt and make it “go off.” You cannot drop a firearm down a flight of stairs with it bouncing off every step and make it “go off.” 

The only circumstance in which you can make a firearm “go off” is a method that firearms experts refer to as “pulling the trigger” – which is what Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate had to have done when he aimed a loaded gun in the direction of Kate Steinle’s back.

The excuse that the state Appeals Court used to let Garcia-Zarate off the hook for unlawful possession of a firearm was equally laughable. The court voided Garcia-Zarate’s sentence because the trial judge did not explain the difference between “unlawful possession of a firearm” and “temporary possession of a firearm.” That’s probably because temporary possession of a firearm is a legal standard that did not exist in the Garcia-Zarate case at all.

Temporary possession of a firearm is a rare legal defense for convicted felons who are not technically allowed to own firearms. Suppose you’re a convicted felon and you stop by your uncle’s house for a visit. A stranger then kicks in the front door wielding a machete and says he’s going to murder everyone in the room if they don’t cooperate. You know that your uncle keeps a lawfully owned sidearm in a nearby desk drawer, so you pull the gun out and shoot the intruder in this life-threatening situation. 

That is “temporary possession of a firearm.” Even though a person is a convicted felon, he or she still has a right to defend their own lives in a dangerous situation. If a gun that they do not own happens to be nearby, they can pick it up and use it to defend themselves and avoid being convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm.

Garcia-Zarate was not defending himself against Kate Steinle, whose back was turned to him when he pulled the trigger. Furthermore, “temporary possession of a firearm” is not legal protection that is afforded to illegal aliens. It’s a protection for American convicted felons. There is no circumstance or legal standard under which a person in the country illegally can possess a firearm — not temporarily, accidentally or otherwise. But the Appeals Court ruled that Garcia-Zarate gets off scot-free because the judge didn’t explain a legal concept to the jury that cannot possibly apply to Kate Steinle’s killer.

Garcia-Zarate is still awaiting federal trial for the gun charge and for unlawful entry into the US (six times). But as for justice for Kate Steinle, that’s unfortunately never going to happen in the California court system.

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