Undocumented immigrant acquitted over 2015 fatal shooting of Kate Steinle
SAN FRANCISCO — The verdict is in for the case that ignited a heated debate over so-called sanctuary cities.
A San Francisco jury on Thursday acquitted undocumented Mexican immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of murder and manslaughter in the fatal 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco Pier.
Defense attorneys said Garcia Zarate found a gun and it accidentally discharged, the bullet ricocheting off the ground at the pier frequented by tourists, before striking Steinle.
But prosecutors argued Garcia Zarate intentionally fired the gun when he struck Steinle with a bullet.
While the jury acquitted Garcia Zarate of murder and manslaughter, they found him guilty on the lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Reports say he is also set to be deported to Mexico.
The case became a rallying cry for President Donald Trump and his hardline stance on immigration during his presidential campaign, particularly his opposition for sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Garcia Zarate had been previously deported to Mexico 5 times and was wanted for a 6th deportation, when he was released by San Francisco sheriffs before the Steinle shooting occurred.
This, despite a request from immigration authorities that he be detained.
Steinle’s father Jim, who was with his daughter when she was shot, said he was saddened and shocked by the verdict, adding that justice was rendered but not served.
Taking to Twitter, president Trump called the Steinle verdict a disgrace, adding “no wonder the people of the country are so angry with illegal immigration”.
Attorneys for Garcia Zarate responded to criticism by the Russia probe that has embroiled the White House.
“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,” saidMatt Gonzalez, co-defense attorney. “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.”