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Alternate juror supports murder acquittal in pier shooting

07 December 2017

Garcia Zarate has said he found an object wrapped in a T-shirt under a bench on a pier that turned out to be gun and accidentally fired when he picked it up. He said he still believed Garcia Zarate should have been convicted of Steinle's murder.

"The ricochet played into heavily whether he had the state of mind to commit murder", said Van Stockum, who didn't participate in jury deliberations.

'Most of the public reaction I've seen has been surprise, confusion and derision, ' Van Stockum writes in the op-ed piece.

Van Stockum, who points out that he is not a lawyer but understood the law that was read to the panel in the Steinle trial, came away from the experience 'with a strong sense of respect for the jurors and their objective handling of a sensitive case under the national spotlight'.

Garcia-Zarate is a seven-time convicted felon and had been deported from the USA five times.

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Prosecutors charged Garcia Zarate with murder, arguing that he planned to kill somebody when he picked up the gun.

Phil Van Stockum sat through the entire trial, saw all the evidence presented, discussed the verdict with the jury after it was delivered and concluded that it was the right decision, he wrote in the article that was posted on Wednesday.

"They appear to be confused by the verdict", Van Stockum said. The San Francisco sheriff's department also released him from jail several weeks before the shooting despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deporation.

Van Stockum, a mechanical engineer, said he and other jurors were able to put aside their feelings about immigration and the news coverage the case received before the trial. "Politics had nothing to do with it".

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate Tuesday on one count each of felon in possession of a firearm and of "being an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States" in possession of a gun and ammunition, according to the indictment.

Alternate juror supports murder acquittal in pier shooting