01 December 2017


By Andy Weddington
Friday, 01 December 2017

Fidelity is the sister of justice.  Horace

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate shot and killed Kate Steinle on Wednesday, 01 July 2015. 

They did not know one another. 

Last evening Mr. Zarate was found not guilty of murder and involuntary manslaughter. 

Not long after jury decisions were made public arrived a private message ...

"Sad, angry, frustrated, confused ... I can't even begin to articulate. #katesteinle @Andy Weddington I can't wait to read your thoughts on this tomorrow"

My objective thoughts based primarily on the experiences of ... 

First, as a Marine colonel assigned to investigate serious senior officer misconduct. 

Justice served. But through my eyes not completely.

Second, as a civilian (retired Marine) and jury foreman for a felony criminal trial.

Justice served. But through my eyes not completely. 

Third, while on active duty as a commanding officer holding Article 15 (nonjudicial punishment) authority and serving on courts martial. 

Fourth, still handling an in-law murdered five years ago.

Justice has not been served. 

Those life experiences, and more, have seasoned a deep appreciation for justice.

Is American justice (military or civilian) perfect?


Name something, anything, designed by human beings that is perfect?

As to the Zarate decision, justice served. But through the eyes of many not completely. Public outrage understood. 

What did the jury hear?

One point of order - they heard the firearm Mr. Zarate was handling accidentally discharged. 

What did the jury not hear?

They did not hear Mr. Zarate was in our country illegally (nor the extent of his trespassing). 

What was the complex tangle of education, training, experiences, filters, biases, etc., each jury member brought to the collective?

Too enormous to address. 

Yet there rests a core element of American justice. 

So ...

Marine (infantryman) perspective: It is impossible for a firearm to discharge accidentally. 

Negligence. Always. 

Did a single juror have (relevant) experience with firearms?

Maybe. Maybe not.

But would one or even two voices be enough to convince an entire jury as to the fallacy of "accidental" discharge? 

And on can go Friday morning quarterbacking. 

For me, the Zarate verdict was disappointing but not surprising.

Justice and fairness are not necessarily synonyms. 

To the big picture ...

The jury bears no blame for not convicting Mr. Zarate of the more serious charges he faced.

The jury, per sworn oath, carried out justice - duty that weighs heavy on the conscience. Perhaps later we learn as to (any) sentiments of fairness. 

Blame rests (and where outrage and anger must be rightfully directed) squarely on the shoulders of ... 

1. San Francisco leaders, policy makers, and law enforcement - who failed in their duty to serve and protect the public (too, from which the jury came); 

2. Voters, ultimately.

To close ...

Kate could have been my sister. Or yours.

Justice and fidelity are sisters, per Horace. 

In America, in God we trust. 

Alas, shaken, again, faith we must keep. 

I ache and pray for family Steinle.

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