Bay Area Baying for Blood in Garcia Zarate Case

Jose Ines Garcia ZarateEarlier today, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not-guilty of murder.

Here in the Bay Area, there has been a big case going on for two years. Zarate, an undocumented immigrant in San Francisco, shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle. I hated the case from the beginning because it was a brown man killing a white woman. And let’s be clear: if a white man had killed a brown woman, this wouldn’t have been a big deal.

But oh was it a big deal. Ever since the case finished, one of the local news channels was pushing an app that would tell you the verdict the moment it came in. Really! As though this case was that important.

Biased Local Coverage

And since the verdict, the local coverage has been anything but objective. The newscasters just can’t believe that he was found not-guilty. They seem truly upset about this fact.

This is the modern equivalent of a crowd with torches and pitchforks. To these people, it seems impossible that the jury knows a whole lot more and that Zarate is in fact innocent.

The Poor Case Against Zarate

When the killing first happened, the reporting on it made it sound like he was clearly guilty. But the more information I got, the more it became clear that there was at very least reasonable doubt.

The biggest thing is that he had no motive whatsoever. But there were many other things. He shot her from a very long way away; he would have had to have been a sharpshooter. And he isn’t.

The story that the defense told sounded reasonable: he had found the gun; he was playing around with it; the gun went off and tragically killed Ms Steinle.

He shot once — just once. If the prosecution was right and that he fired the gun intending to kill or harm someone, why did he fire only once?

The truth is that the prosecution never had much of a case. I think if it hadn’t been for the racist reaction to the case and the fact that it involved “illegal immigration,” he never would have been charged with murder. But as I’m seeing with the reaction to the not-guilty verdict, had there not been a murder trial, the people of “liberal” San Francisco would have been outraged.

We Are Small Minded People

The truth is that we really aren’t good people. Give us half a chance and we will be baying for blood.

It’s not like they’ve lived in a cave the last two years. They’ve read and heard the same information I have. They should have at least become less certain that Zarate was guilty.

There was not one piece of evidence that came out over the last two years that made it more likely that he was guilty. Yet they ignored it all because they wanted “justice.” And by “justice,” I mean they wanted someone to pay.

Here there was this attractive blond-haired young woman who was dead. And here was this dark-skinned man who did, in fact, kill her. So he had to pay. I’m sure if he had been convicted, most people would have been upset that he didn’t get the death penalty.

The Results for Garcia Zarate

Zarate was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. But given he has already been in jail for two years, they will likely just ship him back to Mexico.

Of course, I hear a lot of chatter about Zarate being tried in a federal court. I don’t know if that’s just to pacify the mob or if it really will happen. It seems to me that any reasonable jury will find him innocent. As I said, there isn’t much of a case against him. But often, that doesn’t matter much.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

9 thoughts on “Bay Area Baying for Blood in Garcia Zarate Case

  1. The bullet bounced off the ground! If that was intentional murder, the authorities should be looking for James Bond. Because nobody else could do it.

    I haven’t followed this case closely, but I’m surprised they didn’t go for a charge of manslaughter. That would have been almost a slam dunk. DAs are pretty notorious, though, for using high-profile cases as a means to gain fame and win higher offices. If that’s what happened here, the DA took a stupid gamble, and lost.

    I don’t know the Bay Area very well. I did live in Southern California for two years, and the attitudes towards Latinx residents were shameful. Individual prejudice, public policy, you name it. A general trend among those with far greater privileges than others is to dehumanize the worse off; hence, one does not feel selfish or cruel for insisting upon their continued mistreatment.

    • That’s right! I had forgotten. Actually, the reporting had said (repeatedly) that it ricocheted. But listening to the DA yesterday, I got the impression that he didn’t want to try the case at all. His statement wasn’t the usual, “I believe the jury was wrong, blah, blah, blah.” It was, “The jury is the final arbiter in these matters and we accept that.”

      Actually, I haven’t followed the case closely either. The fact that I know so much about it is an indication of just how much coverage it got — it was only the local news every night the last two month — before that, less, but still a lot. And again: I know this wouldn’t have been a big story if it had been a black woman.

      It’s hard for me to say how people see Latinos in the Bay Area. I have a special fondness for them. My first novel had a major character who was white, but married to a Latina. And he had almost nothing good to say about whites. He thought they were a bunch of lazy complainers while Latinos were good hard-working family men. And that comes directly from me, because growing up with a grandfather who ran a prune farm, Latinos were these hard-working people who were really friendly. But that does go along with sociological research: people who are integrated with other races don’t tend to be prejudiced. It’s people who live near another group but who don’t really interact who are racists.

  2. Actually. According to the Pleasanton paper (a city 40 miles outside SF) when forensic examiners tested the alleged strike mark on the pier (the one supposedly created by a ricocheting bullet) they found nothing of either lead or copper from a bullet.

    Rather deceptive to say a bullet ricocheted when there’s no physical evidence to support the statement.

    Here’s the original article. My guess is you’ll ignore it.

    https://pleasantonweekly.com/news/2015/08/27/bullet-that-struck-killed-kate-steinle-ricocheted-off-pier-wall

    • What you are referring to is not in my article. You are talking about something said in the comments. And you totally distort the article you link to. It does not present that evidence as indicating that the bullet didn’t ricochet. There was no information indicating that any of this was relevant. You’ve just seen in the article what you want to see. The article’s title is, “Bullet that struck, killed Kate Steinle ricocheted off pier wall.” It was reporting the opposite of what you are pushing.

      Your comment was extremely deceptive — not James’ comment. This is what the article states, “Tests run four days after the shooting, of the gouged cement where the bullet is believed to have ricocheted, turned up negative for traces of lead and copper that might have been left by a bullet.” There is other physical evidence besides lead and copper residue — especially on a wall that was right on the bay where the air is salty and humid and windy.

      My guess is that you simply have an ax to grind and you are part of the torches and pitchfork gang that made this trial necessary.

      • This is wild. I’ve been working on reconnecting with a brother of mine, who makes an abominable shit-ton of money, and accordingly has the accompanying political views (for a while, he worked at Bain Capital. ‘Nuff said).

        He just moved to a different SFO suburb. Guess which one? Pleasanton.

        (I don’t recall what the name of the suburb in Jordan Peele’s wonderful “Get Out” was, but Pleasanton would have been very appropriate.)

        That Pleasanton newspaper article was actually good stuff, very fair reporting. The bottom line is, this guy was certainly guilty of manslaughter or reckless endangerment or something similar, and the DA wanted a big profile case. So the DA screwed up making it a murder trial. And people in places like Pleasanton freaked out; “oh, no, the guy I insult when he does my landscaping secretly wants to kill me!”

        • I think something like reckless endangerment might have stuck. But not even manslaughter — not by what I know. I really do think it was that there was intense pressure on the the DA to get this guy for murder. And now the feds are going to try the same thing? Regardless of how they finesse it, it will be double jeopardy. I’m so sick of this. I felt the same way in the Simpson trial. I’m tired to civil suites being used to get around this. But this attempt is even worse.

          Note how “the Watcher” hasn’t come back. Typical. But I suspect he has nothing else to say. His entire justification is one sentence in one article in a small newspaper. Can we even be sure that detail is right? Reporters make mistakes. Why didn’t The Chronicle pick up on it? I assume we didn’t hear more because that little detail didn’t mean anything.

      • (Unfair on my part to attribute motives to the DA. It’s entirely possible the murder charge was due to political pressure, not the DA’s ambition. I sometimes type faster than I think.)

  3. Didn’t this case get picked up by Trumplandia as a banner for their anti immigrant racism? Perhaps that factored into the choice to pursue murder charges. Is it known where the gun came from and why it was just lying around?

    • Indeed. And in perfect Trumpian fashion, he lied about it. He said Zarate had fired 5 times. And of course, the reason the justice department is now going after Zarate is because of Trump. You see, none of this would have happened if San Francisco weren’t a Sanctuary City. Never mind that Zarate had already managed to be deported 4 times — a fact that had nothing to do with San Francisco policy.

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