A California jury on found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a Mexican citizen who had been deported from the United States five times, not guilty of homicide charges in the July 2015 death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco.
At the time of the shooting in 2015, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and others blamed San Francisco’s ‘sanctuary city’ policy for Steinle’s death.
After nearly a week of deliberations, a jury of six men and six women found the undocumented immigrant accused of fatally shooting the 32-year-old woman two years ago in San Francisco not guilty of murder charges.
Zarate, 54, was accused of gunning down Steinle in July 2015 while she was walking with her father at San Francisco’s Pier 14.
Steinle’s death became a war cry for Trump, who used the case to persecute undocumented immigrants, criticize sanctuary cities and advocate a border wall between the US and Mexico.
“This senseless and totally preventable act of violence committed by an illegal immigrant is yet another example of why we must secure our border immediately,” said Trump in 2015. “This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it. Nobody else has the guts to even talk about it. That won’t happen if I become President.”
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said the “verdict should be respected” in anticipation of criticism from the White House.
Gonzalez said that the president, vice president, and attorney general — who are all under investigation — should appreciate protections afforded by the justice system.
Republicans failed to enact legisation known as “Kate’s Law” — a measure named for Steinle — that would create harsher penalties for immigrants caught repeatedly entering the US illegally and pressure municipalities to enforce federal immigration laws.
At the time of the shooting in 2015, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and others blamed San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy for Steinle’s death.
Garcia Zarate was accused of fatally shooting Steinle, 32, with a Sig Sauer .40-caliber handgun as she and her father walked on San Francisco’s Pier 14.
The defense depicted the shooting as a freak accident, arguing that the gun accidentally discharged and the bullet ricocheted on the concrete pier 78 feet before hitting Steinle.
The weapon was stolen from a federal Bureau of Land Management agent’s car several days before the shooting. Garcia Zarate, who was homeless, said he found the gun wrapped in some sort of cloth under a seat he was sitting on at the pier.
The defense called a weapons expert, who said that the Sig Sauer pistol has a history of misfiring.
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