Jury: Mexican man not guilty in San Francisco pier killing

Dec 01, 2017, 06:26
Jury: Mexican man not guilty in San Francisco pier killing

A San Francisco jury found the illegal immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle not guilty of murder Thursday, a stunning result in a case that ignited a nationwide debate over illegal immigration and sanctuary cities.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, arrested in connection with the July 1, 2015, shooting of Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco, is led into the Hall of Justice for his arraignment in San Francisco on July 7, 2015.

Steinle died in July 2015.

Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and had been transferred to San Francisco's jail in March 2015 to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana. Sanctuary City policies limit cooperation between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Languishing in seventh behind his Republican competitors at the time, just two weeks into his campaign, Trump used Garcia Zarate's past-he had been deported from the US five times and had seven felony convictions, including drug charges-as proof of his campaign's anti-immigrant operating thesis. "They did not obey the law".

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EMSLIE: Yeah. So they found not guilty on nearly all of the charges that the defendant faced with the single exception of being a felon in possession of a handgun.

The jury seemed to have been convinced by defense arguments that Garcia-Zarate had no direct intention of firing the.40-caliber Sig Sauer pistol that he found that day on the waterfront, four days after it had been stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger's auto nearby.

He was homeless at the time of the shooting and had multiple felony convictions on his record as well as five prior deportations to Mexico. "He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle", she said. The case resulted in national headlines past year when Donald Trump used it in his presidential campaign to argue the country needs tougher immigration laws.

Despite the national political implications, the San Francisco jury was charged with a more discreet task of criminal culpability for Steinle's death.

Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian said prosecutors were disappointed in the verdict but respected the jury's decision.

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After the verdict, Jim Steinle told the Chronicle he was "saddened and shocked".

"San Francisco's policy of refusing to honor ICE detainers is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law", Homan said in a statement after the verdict Thursday.

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

Steinle's death became a rallying cry for Trump and others, who have invoked the case in decrying sanctuary cities and promoting the construction of the border wall.

In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump tried to link Democrat Hillary Clinton to the controversy.

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