Mexican off hook in Kate Steinle murder facing new, federal charges

Ivan Schwartz
December 7, 2017

A San Francisco jury found him not guilty of murder on Thursday but he was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Kate Steinle was gunned down by an illegal alien who told authorities he specifically went to San Francisco because it was a sanctuary city.

Federal officials have charged Jose Inez Garcia Zarate with immigration and gun possession violations, one week after the illegal alien was acquitted in the murder of Kate Steinle.

Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, 47, a native of Mexico, was charged with two federal crimes Tuesday: being a felon in possession of a firearm and being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm.

The day after the trial, federal authorities said they would seek to gain custody of Garcia Zarate and eventually deport him. They believe the gun possession conviction seemed at odds with the acquittals, given that those verdicts aligned with the defense contention that Garcia Zarate found the gun by happenstance at the pier where the shooting occurred.

Garcia-Zarate is not yet represented by counsel.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 14 on the firearms possession conviction, and Garcia Zarate is expected to be sentenced to either 16 months in prison, two years or three years, depending on the ruling of Judge James Feng.

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The verdict created a furor nationally, particularly among those on the right pursuing an anti-immigration agenda, and prompted a #boycottSF campaign online, as well as several angry tweets from President Donald Trump.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, whose office prosecuted Garcia Zarate, said the jury's decision last week was "hard to receive" but that he respects the decision.

San Francisco prohibits city law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status or detaining people exclusively on the basis of civil immigration detainers after they are eligible for release.

Jurors could also have convicted Garcia Zarate of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter but chose not to.

The.40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun had been stolen from an off-duty U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger's vehicle in San Francisco days before the shooting.

The case sparked a fierce debate over sanctuary cities, and forced San Francisco officials to defend its policy.

Other reports by GizPress

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