Kate Steinle jury breaks for holiday in San Francisco pier killing case

No verdict was reached Wednesday in the trial of the homeless illegal immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco in 2015. The jury will resume deliberations on Monday morning, following the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

After 12 days of testimony, dozens of witnesses and two days of closing arguments in the murder trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, jurors were given the case Tuesday to determine whether Steinle’s death was the result of an act of murder or a tragic accident. They deliberated for a few hours before leaving for the day without a verdict.

Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend in July 2015 when she was shot, collapsing into her father's arms. Zarate had been released from the San Francisco jail about three months before the shooting, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for deportation.

San Francisco shooting suspect Francisco Sanchez and victim Kathryn Steinle are shown in this composite photo.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate (left) admitted to shooting Kate Steinle (right) on a San Francisco pier in 2015 but said it was an accident.  (Associated Press)

During closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia argued that Zarate used a stolen gun to deliberately shoot Steinle in “his own secret version of Russian roulette” and said the defense’s claim that the shooting was accidental was pure fiction.

She said that Zarate went to the pier that day wanting to shoot the gun at people and said the Steinle family was “the closest target” in his line of fire.

“There’s no reason that gun went off other than this defendant decided to pull the trigger,” Garcia told the jury.

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Defense Attorney Matt Gonzalez painted a different picture of how the events unfolded, arguing that Zarate found the gun on the pier. He said it fired accidentally when the defendant picked it up and the bullet ricocheted off a concrete walkway before fatally hitting Steinle.

Zarate has admitted to shooting Steinle, but said it was an accident.

Gonzalez told jurors that Zarate didn’t know Steinle and had no reason to want to hurt her. Since it was also not a point blank-shot, Gonzalez asked the jury, “Can you say he put his finger on the trigger and pulled it because he wanted to do her harm?”

He also argued the case should have only been charged as manslaughter, and the only question should have been if it was manslaughter, or not guilty based on an accident. 

Before concluding, Gonzalez asked jurors to make their own judgements about how they believe the events unfolded and told them that although the event was an awful accident, attempting to render a verdict that matched the awfulness of the situation was “not your job.”

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FILE - This July 17, 2015, file photo shows flowers and a portrait of Kate Steinle displayed at a memorial site on Pier 14 in San Francisco, Calif. The bullet that killed Kate Steinle two years ago ricocheted off the ground about 100 yards away before hitting her in the back and later launching a criminal case at the center of a national immigration debate. A San Francisco police officer who helped supervise the investigation testified about the bullet’s trajectory Monday, Oct. 30, 2017 at Zarate's trial. (Paul Chinn /San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

This July 17, 2015, file photo shows flowers and a portrait of Kate Steinle displayed at a memorial site on Pier 14 in San Francisco, Calif. The bullet that killed Kate Steinle ago ricocheted off the ground about 100 yards away before hitting her in the back and later launching a criminal case at the center of a national immigration debate.  (San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

The case gained national attention after Zarate’s immigration status in the country was revealed. The Mexican citizen had been deported five times and served federal prison time for illegally re-entering the U.S.

Jurors did not hear evidence or arguments about the defendant’s legal status and it will not be a factor in the trail.

Fox News' Jennifer Girdon in San Francisco and The Associated Press contributed to this report.