SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The Mexican national charged with fatally shooting a young San Francisco woman walking on a city pier is seeking dismissal of his criminal case, which added to the national debate over illegal immigration.
Juan Francisco Sanchez-Lopez and his lawyer Matt Gonzalez are expected to ask a judge Friday to drop a second-degree murder charge and related counts, arguing that Sanchez-Lopez that the judge presiding over a preliminary hearing late last year made procedural mistakes.
He has pleaded not guilty. Gonzalez didn’t return a phone call and email inquiry.
A San Francisco judge on Sept. 4 ordered Sanchez-Lopez to stand trial on murder charges after a five-day preliminary hearing.
Kate Steinle, 32, of San Francisco was walking with her father along the city’s popular and crowded waterfront on July 1 when she was shot in the back. She died in her father’s arms.
Sanchez-Lopez was arrested several hours later a few blocks from the incident. Sanchez-Lopez told police he found a gun on the pier and that it fired accidentally when he picked it up. The gun was the service weapon of a Bureau of Land Management ranger, who reported it stolen from his car in late June.
Lopez-Sanchez was in the country illegally when he was released from the San Francisco jail despite federal immigration authorities requesting he remain in custody for possible deportation. Lopez-Sanchez was previously deported five times to his native Mexico.
Former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said jailers released Sanchez-Lopez after local prosecutors dropped a marijuana-related charge. Mirkarimi said he was following city policy of non-cooperation with federal immigration officials by releasing Lopez-Sanchez.
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has repeatedly mentioned the killing of Steinle as he calls for a border wall and mass deportations to curb illegal immigration.