For the first time in more than a year, the attorney for the man accused of fatally shooting Kate Steinle has hinted at his likely trial strategy: It was all a terrible accident, and the oft-deported Mexican immigrant who held the gun when it went off was more a homeless victim of lifelong poverty than a murderous monster. Prosecutors say the facts are clear enough: Lopez-Sanchez, 54, killed Steinle on July 1, , as she walked along Pier 14 in San Francisco with her father — and he was aiming a stolen gun at her when he fired.
A single shot hit Steinle, 32, in the back and went through her heart. Forensics analysts determined the bullet ricocheted off the ground before it struck her.
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Lopez-Sanchez is a Mexican citizen who was bound for his sixth deportation for felony re-entry into the United States when he was brought to San Francisco in March on a year-old warrant for marijuana charges. The House approved the bill June 29 and sent it to the Senate. All that has happened before Lopez-Sanchez has come to trial. He pleaded not guilty in to one count of second-degree murder and is set to return to court Friday for a hearing at which a trial date could be scheduled.
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The manual for the pistol — a Sig Sauer P model, built for. It also includes a warning from the Massachusetts attorney general that hundreds of people die from accidental discharges of firearms, although that warning does not specifically refer to the P Three firearms experts contacted by The Chronicle said Sig Sauer.
Most said that if the one that killed Steinle went off unintentionally it was probably through negligent use, not mechanical failure.
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But accidentally? Much of the morning was occupied with arguing over the inclusion of evidence obtained from phone records, and determining what happened to an apparently lost bag of evidence.
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In the early afternoon, court reporter Gail Rolen testified about the garbage bag in question during a hushed hearing in front of Judge Kelli Johnson. Defense attorney Rick DeToto questioned Rolen during the hearing. They huddled around the judge's bench and spoke only in whispers, meaning most of the testimony was indecipherable to reporters in the audience.
The hearing was on the record, as another court reporter stepped in to transcribe the conversation.
After, the bailiff in the courtroom testified in similarly hushed tones. Because of the secrecy at the bench, it's unknown what happened to the bag, what was in it or how it got lost. Prosecutors aren't speaking with reporters during the trial, and DeToto declined to answer questions on the evidence after court recessed.
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Only the former headmaster of The Kinkaid School, where Armstrong attended before transferring to Lamar High School, testified before jurors were dismissed for the day. The former school leader, Andrew Martire, described Kinkaid as a rigorous institution, where students were expected to participate athletically, academically and in the fine arts.
Armstrong was placed on academic probation in the second semester of the school year, Martire said. School officials were interested in keeping him at the school, but he wasn't offered re-enrollment at the end of the semester, he said.