The illegal immigrant accused of shooting and killing a San Francisco woman in front of her father appeared in court on Tuesday as Hillary Clinton joined figures from across the political spectrum in condemning the city’s decision to release him before the crime.
Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez pleaded not guilty to murdering Kathryn Steinle as she walked on Pier 14 with her father. His public defender Matt Gonzalez said the shooting last week appeared to be an ‘accident’ and Sanchez claims the rifle ‘went off in his hands’.
The San Francisco chronicle claims that the rifle used to kill Miss Steinle had been stolen from an federal agent’s car in June. It adds to other reports that Sanchez had been using it to shoot at seals.
Sanchez’s alleged crime follows controversial comments by Donald Trump against illegal immigrants which have brought the debate on how they should be handled to the fore.
And on Tuesday Hillary Clinton commented on Sanchez’s case, telling CNN: ‘The city made a mistake, not to deport someone that the federal government strongly felt should be deported.’
Donald Trump has called the crime a ‘disgrace’ numerous other political figures have added their condemnation.
In jailhouse interviews with two television stations, Sanchez said he found a gun wrapped in a shirt on the pier and it went off in his hands.
‘This was an act of random violence, shooting an innocent victim in the back’ prosecutor Dianna Garcia told the judge, arguing against releasing Sanchez on bail.
The judge set bail at $5 million, which Gonzalez said will keep Sanchez jailed pending trial.
A downcast Sanchez spent most of the hearing with his head bowed, appearing to fight back tear while the judge explained the charge to him. Sanchez was aided by a Spanish-language interpreter and entered his plea in Spanish.
Outside court, his attorney said Sanchez has a second-grade education and a non-violent criminal record of low-level drug arrests and immigration violations.
He could face life in prison if convicted.
Leading Democrats – including San Francisco’s former mayor Senator Dianne Feinstein – are joining mounting criticism of the city’s policy of refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials when they request help in detaining a suspect thought to be in the country illegally.
The comments on Tuesday involved the release last month of Lopez Sanchez.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk