Public, officials react to the verdict in Kate Steinle murder case

- Reaction to the verdict for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate has been swift, from legal analysts to police to the public.

Many have criticized the jury's decision to not convict on the murder charge and say San Francisco is simply becoming too soft on crime.

Outside the Hall of Justice this afternoon, two small groups of protesters clashed. One side believed the shooting was an accident and that the case against 45-year-old illegal immigrant Garcia Zarate never should have been prosecuted as murder. 

The other side said a not guilty verdict meant no justice for Steinle.

"I mean, who's crying for Kate today?" asked Jeanne Solnordal. "The prosecutors just did not do their job. They failed to put on a good case. Maybe this will wake the country up and think about what they're doing- this is just becoming too liberal."

Former SFPD Chief Tony Ribera and current Director of USF's International Institute of Criminal Justice Leadership admitted that he and others in law enforcement were disappointed and frustrated by the verdict.

"It's systematic of a larger attitude of accountability and political correctness interfering with accountability for people doing bad things," said Ribera.

San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi said the prosecutor overcharged his client and the jury knew it.

"It's sort of the throw-the-book mentality and what's unusual in this case, is that they argued in the opening statement for second degree and then came back later and said wait a minute we're going to charge this as a first degree," said Adachi.

Legal analysts have attacked District Attorney George Gascon, saying his office's lack of a murder conviction has made him a laughing stock of the United States.

But in a phone interview with Gascon he shrugged off the criticism and said he respects the jury's decision.

"Our conviction rate is one of the highest in the state and has been for the last six or seven years. I'm talking about trial convictions, not settlements - settlements are always 100 percent conviction. But when we go to trial, we win almost 90 percent of the time," Gascon said.

KTVU's Tara Moriarty asked Gascon if his office could have a do-over, would prosecutors do anything differently?

He said no and praised lead and sole prosecutor Diana Garcia for her job on the case.

One question that has arisen is over the judge's decision to not allow jury members to physically hold the gun and pull the trigger.

Legal experts say the entire case really hinged upon whether the gun misfired accidentally or whether the trigger was intentionally pulled.

So you might say the smoking gun quite literally was the smoking gun.
 

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