Various televised interviews and statements from the Garcia Zarate trial
Fox News interview with Matt Gonzalez re: trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, November 1, 2017
Claudia Cowan: Matt Gonzalez, you have a huge victory here tonight, it’s going to get roundly criticized.
Matt Gonzalez: I’m not so sure about that. I think it’s always been a relatively simple case, to be honest with you. The physical evidence has always supported the finding that this was an accidental occurrence. I think the jury came to that conclusion.
CC: In your statement just now, you didn’t waste any time attacking President Trump, why was that?
MG: I didn’t attack him. I just stated something that’s obvious, which is, we all have the protections of the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt standard. I think people really need to reflect on that before they start criticizing a verdict. So, I’m saying, before you do that, you yourselves get this protection, I get it, we all get it. That’s what it is to be in this country.
CC: Matt what do you say to the Steinle family tonight?
MG: I really have the utmost respect for them. I offer condolences. I just have to say, they should not interpret this verdict as diminishing their loss. It’s not about that. The reality is we have three hundred million guns in our society. Forty or fifty accidental shootings every day. Somebody dies every day. This is just a tragedy, what happened.
CC: Do you think there was one key piece of evidence in your presentation that swayed the jury one way or another? Was it the ricochet or was it the grainy surveillance video?
MG: I think the physical evidence. Once you’re talking about the ricochet and the length it has to travel before it hits Ms. Steinle in the back. And you consider that Mr. Garcia Zarate had no history for violence, didn’t know her, didn’t have a bad interaction with her. Candidly, it really pointed to this result.
CC: The problem is so many people will say that he should not have been in this country and he should have been convicted at least of voluntary manslaughter.
MG: But you know, there are so many other people that could have picked up that gun, and most likely would have. Someone working for the Department of Public Works picking up trash on the pier; some other tourist, some other American citizen could have walked along there and picked it up. But at the end of the day, the jury did not ignore what we presented to them, in terms of the number of people at that seat and the lack of history for Mr. Garcia Zarate. I think it’s a good verdict.
CC: What happens to your client now? Will he be deported?
MG: We’ll be back in court in a couple of weeks to discuss the one charge that he was convicted of. We will not be representing him in the federal matter, so I don’t have any comment or opinion about that.
CC: I have to ask you, how are you feeling about this victory for you tonight?
MG: I feel good. But I also have to say that I don’t feel that I need to be congratulated for the outcome, to be totally candid to you. The physical evidence dictated this outcome. I’m just the lawyer that helped guide it along, but really this is what the physical evidence pointed toward.
CC: Matt, stand by. Martha MacCallum in New York has a question for Matt.
Martha MacCallum: Yes, thank you Matt. We just watched your comments moments ago. It’s a difficult comparison to make, to say that the President and some of his people are under investigation. They’re American citizens, this man was deported from this country five times. And as you talk about the fact that anyone could have found that gun, it was found by an illegal alien. He fired that gun and it shot this young woman. So how is that not involuntary manslaughter? How can you make a comparison with the President of the United States and this man?
CC: Martha, Matt does not have an earpiece in, so I will try and paraphrase your question for him. Martha is asking how can you make a comparison with this man and with President Trump, when he should not have been in this country? Why was this not involuntary manslaughter?
MG: It’s not involuntary manslaughter because in order to prove it the prosecution had to prove brandishing of a weapon, which is in a rude angry or threatening manner; and criminal negligence, which would be that he knew that he had a gun and he handled it in a way that was dangerous to others. The jury clearly rejected that, having heard the evidence. I do not mean to compare Mr. Garcia Zarate to our President Donald Trump. I have the utmost respect for the President of the United States. I’m just saying before you start tweeting or commenting on this outcome, just reflect on the fact that all of us get these protections. We get a right to a jury, we get these burdens of proof, and we have to respect that a jury that spent this much time on this case, got it right.
CC: We understand that the jurors asked to see the gun today. What do you think happened with that? They came back with a verdict just a few hours later.
MG: Well, they looked at a lot of evidence and heard a lot of readback, so it would just be speculation for me to comment on that.
CC: Alright Matt, I’ll let you go. Matt Gonzalez, the Chief Public Defender here in San Francisco, came right out of the Hall of Justice to talk with us here at Fox News and to let us know that this is not necessarily a night he will be celebrating, but a night where he feels that this jury reached the correct verdict given the evidence, again, largely circumstantial evidence, presented during the trial. Martha.
MM: Claudia, thank you very much. Claudia Cowan on the scene there and getting the first interview with Matt Gonzalez.
Post-verdict statements by Matt Gonzalez & Francisco Ugarte in People vs. Garcia Zarate, November 1, 2017
Matt Gonzalez: First of all, let me start out by expressing my sincere condolences to the Steinle family. I hope that they do not interpret this verdict as diminishing in any way the awful tragedy that occurred and that their family has suffered. This jury’s verdict should be respected. They heard the evidence, they deliberated as a group, they heard readback testimony, they looked at the physical evidence, and they rendered a verdict to the best of their abilities, in accordance with the law.
I want to thank the Public Defender of San Francisco, Jeff Adachi, who has given us support throughout the trial. He’s given us good advice and we’re very grateful for his assistance and help and support.
For those who might criticize this verdict. There are a number of people that have commented on this case in the last couple of years: the Attorney General of the United States, the President and Vice President of the United States. Let me just remind them, that they are themselves under investigation by a special prosecutor in Washington D.C., and they may themselves, soon avail themselves, of the presumption of innocence and beyond a reasonable doubt standard. And so I would ask them to reflect on that before they comment or disparage the result in this case.
I’m going to allow the other attorneys to make a few remarks. Thank you all.
Francisco Ugarte: This is a powerful day for all of us. I also offer my condolences to the Steinle family. This was just an incomprehensible tragedy. Many of us who are parents really can feel the extraordinary tragedy of what happened.
I do want to talk about the political ramifications of this case. From day one, this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division, to foment a program of mass deportation. It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others. And I believe today is a vindication for the rights of immigrants, that today we have to reflect, all of us, on how we talked about this case in the beginning. And how this swarm of reflection and reaction on the base, of what I believe to be, the racial dynamics of this case. Nothing about Mr. Garcia Zarate’s ethnicity, nothing about his immigration status. Nothing about the fact that he is born in Mexico had any relevance as to what happened on July 1, 2015. We believe the verdict is a correct and accurate reflection of the law and what happened on that day. Thank you.
Interview of Matt Gonzalez by various reporters before opening statements in Garcia Zarate trial, October 23, 2017
Question: What do you expect to accomplish today? What’s the goal?
Matt Gonzalez: Well, we’re trying to tell Mr. Garcia Zarate’s story, and we’re hoping to be able to do it effectively.
Q: What is his story?
MG: Well, as you know, I think from the very outset, I said that this very well could be an accidental shooting consistent with what he had said to the ABC7 camera team that interviewed him. And I think that I will make the case that that’s exactly what happened.
Q: But do you agree that he bears some responsibility even if it was accidental?
MG: No. No, you don’t bear responsibility in terms of the criminal law, as a criminal sanction (whether or not he’s committed a crime), if he didn’t know that the object he touched had a gun in it, then he does not bear criminal responsibility. We have a mature criminal justice system, built on hundreds of years of English common law and that’s the very idea. The mental state, and what you know, is super critical.
Q: Is it your contention that it was accidental?
Q: How so?
MG: We’re going to present evidence of how we think the gun got to the pier. There is video from about a quarter of a mile away. It’s not outstanding; it’s very grainy, but you do see the key facts that occur. We’re very pleased that there’s video because otherwise, some of the things police were able to get Mr. Garcia Zarate to say, we wouldn’t be able to prove were not true. For instance, that he was five feet away when Ms. Steinle was shot. We know he was ninety feet away. Or when the police ask him why he walked by her as she was on the pier injured; we now know that did not happen. But they were unaware of that. So, the video is very helpful in many respects.
Q: What’s the main thing you want to impress upon the jury today?
MG: Well, the trial is starting. We are giving them our version of events. I’m looking forward to hearing what the prosecutor says about the same evidence. She’s a very skilled prosecutor and she’s got the same evidence that we have. She may be interpreting the video evidence differently and so I kind of welcome that. The jury will decide who’s got it right.
Q: What is your client’s state of mind right now?
MG: State of mind is a difficult question. You know he’s got a 2nd grade education and he’s obviously got some mental health issues. It’s not a mental health defense, in terms of, we’re not saying that he’s not guilty because he has a mental defect. But his state of mind is relevant to the answers he’s giving to police officers. Sometimes they’re non sequiturs. You know, they’re asking him questions and he’s talking about vegetables. He kind of goes off the narrative many times. So that’s just going to be an issue for the jury.
Q: Do you expect him to take the stand?
MG: I never preclude that possibility. It’s not a decision that has to be made until we’re in the defense case. But I’m not sure how effective he would be at adding information to the narrative that we have, so.
Q: Are you saying that the gun was in a bag, and that he picked up the bag, and it went off?
MG: Well, it was either wrapped in some kind of rags or some kind of shirt or something like that. But we don’t have it, so we can’t say definitively what it was. It would have, when the gun was thrown into the pier, we believe it would have disentangled from the gun at that time. So, unfortunately we don’t have it. The divers that got the gun, there was a lot of, I don’t know what you all it, turbidity and darkness. They found a gun, but they weren’t looking for a shirt. In any event, the shirt would have probably not stayed in that exact location.
Q: How are politics going to play a factor?
MG: I don’t really know. I think it has already played out, with Kate’s Law and Sanctuary City attacks. That’s not for me to decide. I’m just the trial lawyer and I’ll present the case the best I can. That’s for Congress to decide.