KCBS-TV, November 30, 2017
Jurors Thursday afternoon acquitted the illegal immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle as she walked with her father on a crowded San Francisco pier of all charges except for felony possession of a firearm.
A spokesperson for the Superior Court of California made the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict shortly after 3 p.m. Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the shocking verdict was announced that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of all charges except for the gun possession charge.
Jurors have been deliberating on the case since Tuesday, November 21, after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their arguments whether Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident or a calculated murderer intent on playing a sick game.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez spoke after the verdict was read, first taking a moment to offer condolences to the Steinle family.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wasted no time attacking San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policies after the not guilty verdict in the high-profile trial was made public.
Sessions issued a statement placing the blame for Steinle’s July 1, 2015 death on the city’s Sanctuary City policies, which limit cooperation and communication between local law enforcement and immigration authorities.
“When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public’s safety at risk,” Sessions said. “San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle.”
Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend in July 2015 when she was shot, collapsing into her father’s arms. Garcia Zarate had been released from the San Francisco jail about three months before the shooting, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for deportation.
He had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation.
Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan said that immigration officials will take custody of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate once his case concludes.
Jurors did find Garcia Zarate guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that charge carries a potential sentence of 16 months to 3 years.
Steinle’s death put San Francisco and its “sanctuary city” policy in the spotlight, as Democrats and Republicans lashed out at city officials for refusing to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.
Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and was transferred in March 2015 to San Francisco’s jail to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.
The sheriff’s department released him a few days later after the district attorney dropped the marijuana charge, despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deportation.
[Editor’s Note: The DOJ is considering pressing federal charges against Mr. Garcia Zarate.]