Immigrant accused of killing Cal Poly grad appears in court
August 26, 2015
An illegal immigrant who shot and killed a 32-year-old Cal Poly graduate last month in San Francisco is appearing in court this week as a judge decides whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a murder trial. [SF Gate]
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who has been deported to Mexico five times, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kathryn Steinle. Lopez-Sanchez told local television stations in a jailhouse interview that his gun accidentally fired the shot that killed Steinle.
On July 1, Steinle was walking with her father along Pier 14 in San Francisco when she was shot in the back. Lopez-Sanchez’s lawyer is also arguing the shooting was accidental.
Consecutive days of preliminary hearings are currently taking place in the case. San Francisco Judge Brendan Conroy heard witness testimony on Tuesday, and he could rule Wednesday whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a murder trial.
On Tuesday, a woman who witnessed the incident from a nearby hotel window testified. After the shooting occurred, the woman saw a large crowd of people running to help the victim.
She saw one man walking in the opposite direction, the woman testified. The woman snapped photos of the man.
Police later brought Lopez-Sanchez to the witness. She confirmed Lopez-Sacnhez was the man she photographed walking away from Steinle as everyone else in the area was walking toward the victim.
Lopez-Sanchez is a seven-time felon. After an arrest in March, he was permitted to stay in the country because San Francisco is a sanctuary city that does not turn over inmates to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Following the incident, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump called for stricter immigration laws. A national debate has since ignited over the concept of sanctuary cities and federal restrictions that bar local law enforcement from handing off illegal immigrants to ICE.
Just before Steinle was shot, she was taking a smiling selfie with her father. Jim Steinle since testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, where he urged lawmakers to abolish local policies of ignoring ICE detainer requests.
Also following the Steinle killing, an illegal immigrant allegedly sexually assaulted and murdered a Santa Maria woman, and another illegal immigrant allegedly beat a Paso Robles toddler so badly that she nearly died. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office released the suspect in the Paso Robles beating, even though ICE requested that he be held.