Man Acquitted In Kate Steinle Killing Faces Federal Gun And Immigration Charges

Man Acquitted In Kate Steinle Killing Faces Federal Gun And Immigration Charges

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was acquitted last week of state murder and involuntary manslaughter charges, was charged Tuesday with one count of a felon in possession of firearm and one count of an immigrant in possession of a firearm.

A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted him on Tuesday on one count each of felon in possession of a firearm and of "being an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States" in possession of a gun and ammunition, according to the indictment.

In the state's murder and manslaughter case against Zarate, his defense lawyers said he found the weapon and it accidently discharged, shooting Steinle as he held it.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, whose office prosecuted Garcia Zarate, said the jury's decision last week was "hard to receive" but that he respects the decision.

Legal experts say prosecutors overreached by asking for a first-degree murder conviction because the fatal shot ricocheted off the ground, supporting Garcia Zarate's defense that the shooting was an accident. He has been in jail since the day of the shooting.

"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", said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week after the verdict in Garcia Zarate's local case was announced.

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Garcia Zarate had been deported five time before the shooting.

Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate deliberately fired into an unsuspecting crowd on the pier in July 2015, killing Steinle as she walked with her father.

Defense attorneys for Garcia Zarate argued the gun, which had been stolen from the vehicle of a Bureau of Land Management ranger, was accidentally fired by Garcia Zarate.

President Donald Trump frequently brought up the case previous year during his presidential campaign to criticize efforts in the U.S.to combat illegal immigration.

The case sparked a fierce debate over sanctuary cities, and forced San Francisco officials to defend its policy.

The verdict created a furor nationally, particularly among those on the right pursuing an anti-immigration agenda, and prompted a #boycottSF campaign online, as well as several angry tweets from President Donald Trump.

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