William Mansell, ABC News, August 31, 2019
A jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate, 46, in 2017 of first degree murder, second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a semiautomatic firearm for his role in the death of Kate Steinle.
Garcia-Zarate was convicted, however, on the charge of felon in possession of a firearm.
During jury deliberations, jury members asked the court for the definition of possession and if there was a time requirement for possession. The defense argued during the appeal that the trial court failed to instruct the jury that it could acquit Garcia-Zarate because he only possessed the gun for a moment.
On Friday, the First Appellate Court of Appeals in California, in a 3-0 decision, agreed with that defense.
The gun Garcia-Zarate shot belonged to a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger who reported that the gun was stolen from his car in San Francisco.
Despite the overturned conviction, Garcia-Zarate will remain in jail on related federal charges.
The San Francisco Police Officers Association blasted the court’s decision, saying this is “another episode” of San Francisco judges caring more about criminals than victims.
“This is yet another disgusting injustice perpetrated by a broken criminal justice system that is more intent on re-harming the victims of crime and their families than holding violent offenders accountable,” a statement from the police association read.