Undocumented immigrant acquitted of Kathryn Steinle's murder
Dec 01, 2017, 06:23
Prosecutors had argued Zarate intentionally shot Steinle, 32, with a Sig Sauer.40-caliber handgun as she, her father and a family friend were walking on San Francisco's Pier 14.
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. He had just completed a federal prison sentence for re-entering the country after deportation when he was transferred to San Francisco by federal authorities based on a warrant for a marijuana charge. "It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others", defense attorney Francisco Ugarte said after the verdict.
The city's sanctuary policies were not mentioned in the trial and there were only brief references to the defendant's immigration status.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions condemned San Francisco's sanctuary city policy in the wake of a not-guilty verdict.
Jurors did find him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, meaning he knowingly had a firearm but there was no intent for him to hurt or shoot anyone. "I urge the leaders of the nation's communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers".
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said Garcia Zarate found the gun at the pier.
Steinle's story has been prominent in Republicans' push for immigration reform - including a bill passed by the House this summer titled "Kate's Law", which creates harsher punishments for illegal re-entry into the US.
Steinle's family filed a lawsuit in 2016 alleging that San Francisco and its former sheriff were partly to blame for Steinle's death, because officials never notified Immigration and Customs Enforcement when Garcia Zarate was released from a local jail in April 2015.
After the verdict, a Public Defender Jeff Adachi also released a statement saying Zarate was "extremely relieved" by the decision and while Steinle's death "was a terrible tragedy", it was used as "political fodder for the then candidate Donald Trump's anti-immigration agenda", Fox News reported.
President Donald Trump blasted a California jury that acquitted a Mexican immigrant who was in the USA illegally in the shooting death of a woman in San Francisco two years ago after local officials let the man go while he was awaiting deportation. The bullet, shot from a stolen gun, ricocheted off the concrete before striking Steinle.
"There was a tremendous amount of misinformation that was spread about this case from day one", San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi told reporters outside the courtroom. "I have met with numerous great parents who lost their children to sanctuary cities and open borders". But it's unlikely to have enough votes to pass the Senate, which struggled with Kate's Law previous year.
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