San Francisco Pier 14 shooting suspect seeks case’s dismissal

FILE - In this Tuesday, July 7, 2015 file photo, Juan Francisco Sanchez-Lopez walks into court for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. Sanchez-Lopez and his lawyer Matt Gonzalez are expected to ask a judge Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, to drop a second-degree murder charge and related counts, arguing that the judge presiding over a preliminary hearing late last year made procedural mistakes. Sanchez-Lopez, a Mexican national, is charged with fatally shooting Kate Steinle, while walking on a city pier. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Mexican national charged with fatally shooting a young San Francisco woman walking on a city pier is seeking dismissal of his criminal case, which added to the national debate over illegal immigration.

Juan Francisco Sanchez-Lopez and his lawyer Matt Gonzalez are expected to ask a judge Friday to drop a second-degree murder charge and related counts, arguing that Sanchez-Lopez that the judge presiding over a preliminary hearing late last year made procedural mistakes.

He has pleaded not guilty. Gonzalez didn’t return a phone call and email inquiry.

A San Francisco judge on Sept. 4 ordered Sanchez-Lopez to stand trial on murder charges after a five-day preliminary hearing.

Kate Steinle, 32, of San Francisco was walking with her father along the city’s popular and crowded waterfront on July 1 when she was shot in the back. She died in her father’s arms.

Sanchez-Lopez was arrested several hours later a few blocks from the incident. Sanchez-Lopez told police he found a gun on the pier and that it fired accidentally when he picked it up. The gun was the service weapon of a Bureau of Land Management ranger, who reported it stolen from his car in late June.

Lopez-Sanchez was in the country illegally when he was released from the San Francisco jail despite federal immigration authorities requesting he remain in custody for possible deportation. Lopez-Sanchez was previously deported five times to his native Mexico.

Former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said jailers released Sanchez-Lopez after local prosecutors dropped a marijuana-related charge. Mirkarimi said he was following city policy of non-cooperation with federal immigration officials by releasing Lopez-Sanchez.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has repeatedly mentioned the killing of Steinle as he calls for a border wall and mass deportations to curb illegal immigration.

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