Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Jury finds undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder of Kate Steinle

Jury finds undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder of Kate Steinle

The shooting, which occurred in a so-called sanctuary city, sparked a national debate about immigration reform.

A jury found Thursday undocumented immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty in the July 2015 death of Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco, California, a decision that reignited the debate over immigration policy.

Zarate's defense lawyer, Francisco Ugarte, remarked that the death of Steinle was an "incomprehensible tragedy" but also commented that the ruling was a vindication for immigrants. However, he was found guilty of possession of a firearm.

The high-profile case attracted national attention after it was found Garcia Zarate had been deported five times before, and had been released from jail in San Francisco after a drug charge despite a federal request to hold him for deportation again to Mexico. Visit for more information on this news.

Kathryn Steinle 32 was killed in San Francisco in July 2015
Kathryn Steinle 32 was killed in San Francisco in July 2015

The prosecutor on Monday referred to Steinle as a "vibrant life" taken too soon but otherwise did not dwell on the victim in a closing argument that lasted about an hour.

The gun was stolen from the SUV of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger that was parked in San Francisco.

Zarate, 45, was acquitted of murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, as well as assault with a deadly weapon. [The] Assistant District Attorney [-] spent much of the trial seeking to prove the gun that killed Steinle couldn't have fired without a firm pull of the trigger, while establishing that Garcia Zarate tossed the weapon into the bay before fleeing the scene - an implication of his guilt, she said.

He pointed out that Zarate was a seven-time felon who had been deported from the USA five times before the fatal shooting. Garcia Zarate didn't deny shooting Steinle and said it was an accident.

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The gun was stolen four days before the killing from the parked auto of a visiting Bureau of Land Management ranger.

The sheriff's department released him a few days later after prosecutors dropped the marijuana charge, despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deportation.

The defendant had been deported five times.He was scheduled for a sixth deportation in 2015 while he was in federal custody for felony reentry.

President Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that Steinle's death was another reason the United States needed to build a wall on its southern border and tighten its immigration policies. Since taking office, Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from places with similar sanctuary city laws.

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San Francisco became a sanctuary city in 1989. Such cities often do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws. On April 15, 2015, Zarate was freed from the San Francisco County Jail. "It's disconcerting", Brad Steinle told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway and fatally struck Steinle in the back.

Gillian Christensen, an ICE spokesperson, has said the detainer wasn't honored. "She would still be alive today if her killer had been imprisoned or deported, as he should have been".

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