My news feed is awash for days with articles about this case and how angry everyone is at the verdict. Some pundits are saying it represents San Francisco – a sanctuary city – giving the finger to Trump and his wall, other the finger to the entire country! It’s a sign of how all illegals are evil! The jury is clearly biased and let a killer go free!
The fact that he is here illegally doesn’t mean he did the crime. Even the fact that he signed a confession does not mean he did the crime. We know of many cases with forced or coerced confessions. Why people do that is a matter for another day (i.e. psychology) but they do it.
He was found not guilty. That’s the ruling by those who heard the evidence.
I didn’t hear the evidence and can only judge based on the reporting, which of course is a scant summation of each side. One side saying intent, the other saying accident. It is up to the prosecutor to prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the jury’s job to decide if he did. When dealing with murder it’s very difficult actually because murder is a crime of intent. To prove intent is one of the most difficult things to do. If a statute says “A person commits theft by controlling the property of another” that is a much different thing than if it reads, “A person commits theft by controlling the property of another with the intent to deprive the other person of such property”. In one case they just have to have it and control it in the other we have to prove they intended to deprive them of the property. In other words, not just borrow it. Killing someone without intent is manslaughter, not murder. Both manslaughter and murder are homicide by the way. Manslaughter still requires recklessness, or negligence on the part of the person. If there is none then it’s just an accident.
So in this case the prosecutor had to prove that the defendant either shot Kate Steinle on purpose, or was negligent in his actions which lead to her death. From the statements of the defense attorney he was arguing that the gun was found, picked up, and accidentally discharged. I’m not saying that is true or not true, I don’t have the evidence he presented in front of me. What I’m saying is that was his defense. If true, then it is a valid defense to the charge of both murder and manslaughter.
That the defendant was found not guilty could be due to one of several reasons:
- He’s actually not guilty
- He’s guilty but the prosecutor did a poor job
- He’s guilty but the jury was biased against Trump so they unanimously agreed to set aside his guilt to make a point to Trump
- He’s guilty but the jury is so biased in favor of illegal aliens that they unanimously agreed to set aside his guilt show their support
As I said, my take is simply opinion but I think the most likely scenario is actually number two. I think he’s probably guilty, but the prosecutor was simply unable to prove his case. I say “poor job” above but that may not be the case. He may have done the very best job he could but the evidence simply wasn’t there or the defense did an even better job. I really don’t think that the jury let him go because of bias though.
I am reminded of a case, tried long ago, by John Adams. That of the soldiers in the Boston Massacre. Though popular sentiment was against them, and the whole city was in an uproar, the men were found not guilty because that is where the evidence lead. Clearly in Boston there were issues of politics that needed fixed. But in the end the jury was able to ignore those things and find the soldiers not guilty. These soldiers represented the embodiment of everything the colonials were upset about. Much like Jose Ines Garcia Zarate in this case represents the many things wrong with American immigration.
That tragedy and sadness surround this case, and that a fix to our immigration system would have prevented it, are important factors to consider for the future but not for the case itself.
To be considered innocent until proved guilty is vitally important doctrine. It is more formally known as the “presumption of innocence” which is a term I wish was used far more often than the more common one, “innocent until proven guilty”. It’s a subtle but important difference. In the former, there is no mention of guilt at all. The person resides in the default state of “he did not do it”. If anyone wants to say he did then they must prove it. The latter suggests the person is guilty, everyone knows it, and someone just has to prove it. The 5th, 6th and 14th amendments cover this.
The rights of the accused are vital. Though we often hear of criminals going free, or hear people complain that the criminals have more rights than the victims, we must firmly believe that this is as it should be. Think for a moment just what happens to a convicted person. In a society built on rights, their conviction means their rights are taken away. Even the president himself does not have that power. That power rests with the judicial system alone. That’s how incredibly important it is that it not be abused. One example of such abuse is seen in the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during WWII by Democrat president FDR (yes, I had to get in he was a Democrat, sue me). It was a presidential order, Order 9066. For those of you who are Star Wars fans you will recognize that the order to betray the Jedi was Order 66. Later, in recognition of the evil done to them the US government paid compensation. By that time (1988) only 73,000 of so of the people imprisoned wrongfully were still alive to receive it.
As the winds of change alter the landscape of our country, each of us could find ourselves on the wrong end of a law with the only thing giving us hope being our due process. This is a case where we must respect the rights of others so that when it comes time for us to need them they will be there.
I suggest that, rather than being mad at the verdict, be mad at a government that allows people to return to our country when we know they are bad actors.
The case became a major Republican talking point during the 2016 presidential campaign.