Defense witness in Steinle murder: Police interrogation mistranslated

(San Francisco Chronicle) A bilingual San Francisco police officer who acted as a Spanish-language interpreter in the interrogation of the man accused of fatally shooting Kate Steinle on Pier 14 mistranslated key portions of the interview, a Spanish translation expert testified Thursday.

The recorded interview of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate is a central piece of evidence in his trial, and defense attorneys called the expert as their final witness. They’re seeking to refute the accusation that the 45-year-old man fired the stolen gun intentionally — rather than accidentally — and is therefore guilty of second-degree murder.

Though homicide investigators asked Garcia Zarate at various points in the four-hour interrogation if he had pulled the trigger of the gun, Officer Martin Covarrubias never actually said the word for trigger — gatillo — when he translated the questions into Spanish, said Fanny Suarez, an investigator for the city public defender’s office and a former court interpreter.