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Kate Steinle shooting trial delayed again even as defendant asserts right to speedy trial

SAN FRANCISCO — The trial of an undocumented immigrant accused of shooting and killing San Francisco resident Kate Steinle was postponed again Friday, more than two years after Steinle’s death.
But the defendant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, asserted his right to a speedy trial, meaning that the trial must begin within 60 days. He hasn’t asserted that right before, as he waited for his defense team to collect evidence and prepare a strategy.
“He’s ready for a resolution,” Matt Gonzalez, the chief attorney of the Public Defender’s Office, who is representing Lopez-Sanchez, said in an interview.
But the trial can’t begin yet because the prosecutor is preparing for another case, lawyers said. So Lopez-Sanchez’s trial may have to wait until after that case concludes. 
Lopez-Sanchez allegedly shot the 32-year-old Steinle in July 2015 on Pier 14 in San Francisco’s Embarcadero district. His defense lawyers have argued that physical evidence suggests the shooting was accidental.
An immigrant from Mexico who had been deported multiple times, Lopez-Sanchez was released from the San Francisco jail under a policy preventing jail officials from coordinating with federal immigration officers. The shooting provoked a political maelstrom, with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and others using it as an example of what they said were the dangers of “sanctuary city” policies.
Lopez-Sanchez will be back in court next Friday to continue the scheduling drama.
His defense attorneys, meanwhile, are still trying to get testimony from the former owner of the gun used in the shooting. The gun was stolen from the car of a Bureau of Land Management agent several days earlier. Lopez-Sanchez says he found it wrapped in a t-shirt or rag under a bench.
His attorneys subpoenaed the BLM agent, but the bureau has resisted allowing him to testify based on rules about when federal employees can be subpoenaed in state courts. Defense lawyers say they hope to come to an agreement with the bureau by next week’s hearing.
“We’re considering all of our options,” Gonzalez said. “It is without a doubt the BLM officer’s negligence that started the chain of events that led to Kate Steinle’s death.”

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