Alternate juror supports murder acquittal in pier shooting

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SAN FRANCISCO – An alternate juror who sat through a murder trial that prompted a fierce immigration debate says he agrees with the jury's decision to acquit a Mexican man of murder for the shooting death of a San Francisco woman two years ago.

Phil Van Stockum said in an interview Wednesday that there was no evidence Jose Ines Garcia Zarate planned or meant to kill Kate Steinle on July 1, 2015.

He said acquitting Garcia Zarate of involuntary manslaughter was a closer call. But he said jurors had to first determine that the Mexican man was brandishing a gun before it fired and killed Steinle.

Garcia Zarate said he didn't know he had a gun in his hands until it fired.

Van Stockum was an alternate juror and didn't participate in deliberations.

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