Undocumented convict awaits trial in San Francisco slaying of Kate Steinle on Pier 14

SAN FRANCISCO (Paul Elias/AP) -- It's been two years since a woman was randomly gunned down on a busy San Francisco pier in a shooting that set off a fierce national immigration debate.

The man accused of killing Kate Steinle is still waiting for his murder trial to be scheduled. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez is set to appear in court Friday, when a trial date may get set.

The 54-year-old was arrested shortly after Steinle's slaying on July 1, 2015.

At the time of his arrest, Lopez-Sanchez had been convicted five times for illegal re-entry into the United States and had been recently released from the San Francisco jail despite a request by immigration officials to keep him behind bars.

Lopez-Sanchez pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and two other felony charges in late 2015.

In an opinion piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on July 3, San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Matt Gonzalez argued that the proposed "Kate's Law," which would increase the maximum sentence for immigrants who re-enter the country illegally after a deportation -  would not have saved the young woman. "Her death," Gonzalez wrote, "was the result of system defects and individual errors that the bill does not address."

He said the stolen Sig Sauer that Lopez Sanchez used has a "hair trigger," and is documented in "hundreds of accidental discharges." He also said that his client is not "dangerous," as many claim. Rather Lopez-Sanchez is a "simple man with a second-grade education who survived  many hardships" and who came to the United States repeatedly to try to escape extreme poverty in Mexico.

KTVU's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

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