Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
World | By Camille Rivera

Kate Steinle death: Garcia Zarate acquitted of homicide

Kate Steinle death: Garcia Zarate acquitted of homicide

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted in a case that galvanized anti-immigration forces and forced San Francisco officials to defend their "sanctuary city" policy.

A spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney, Alex Bastian, says the acquittal of a Mexican man in a high-profile killing was not the verdict they had hoped for, but that prosecutors would respect the jury's decision. What I don't understand here (and I am not an attorney) is why the jury was unable to find Zarate guilty on the manslaughter charge.

Defense lawyers said the shooting was an accident that happened when Garcia Zarate, who had a history of drug crimes but no record of violence, found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt or cloth under his seat on the pier just seconds before it discharged in his hands.

While the jurors didn't hear evidence regarding Zarate's immigration status, the shooting came roughly three months after a San Francisco jail released him despite federal immigration authorities' request he remain detained before his deportation.

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After he was elected president, Trump signed an executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with US immigration authorities, a policy that a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked Monday.

The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway before it struck Steinle. The timing and specifics of Steinle's tragic death catapulted the case into the national spotlight as a cause célèbre for then-candidate Donald Trump, who seized upon the death of "beautiful Kate", as he referred to her on the stump.

The gun was stolen four days before the killing from the parked vehicle of a visiting Bureau of Land Management ranger. The city has been plagued by an epidemic of vehicle burglaries in recent years.

Defense attorneys have told jurors that Garcia Zarate lived on the streets of San Francisco after being released from jail, scraping together a living by collecting recyclables and scavenging for food.

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Trump signed an executive order to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, but a federal judge recently blocked it in a lawsuit from two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara. Under local sanctuary city rules, local law enforcement won't hold a person beyond the term of their incarceration.

Zarate most recently served five years in a federal prison in Victorville, Calif. She was a 32-year-old medical equipment saleswoman. "It's disconcerting", Brad Steinle told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

President Donald Trump said during the 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. "She would still be alive today if her killer had been imprisoned or deported, as he should have been".

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