Published: Wed, December 06, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Illegal immigrant indicted on federal charges after San Francisco murder acquittal

Illegal immigrant indicted on federal charges after San Francisco murder acquittal

A federal grand jury issued an indictment on Tuesday against Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, the undocumented immigrant who was acquitted on state charges of murder and manslaughter last week in the shooting of Kate Steinle. The Mexican national, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, will face new immigration and gun charges. He claimed he fired accidentally. The shooting of the 32-year-old Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015 ignited a fierce immigration debate that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump seized on as part of his campaign's proposed crackdown on illegal immigrants and U.S. Garcia Zarate's defense attorneys say they will appeal that conviction which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.

In closing arguments, lead attorney Matt Gonzalez argued that momentary possession, especially when you don't know what you're possessing, is not a crime.

In San Francisco, reaction to the not-guilty verdict persists.

"From the day the murder happened, (the) case has been used as a political stunt", Gascón said.

The case also caught the attention of presidential candidate Donald Trump past year, who used it to highlight crime committed by undocumented immigrants during his campaign.

Garcia Zarate had been deported five times before the 2015 shooting.

He said he still believed Garcia Zarate should have been convicted of Steinle's murder. The bullet had ricocheted off the concrete walkway before striking Steinle, they pointed out.

Garcia Zarate faced a charge of second-degree murder, but jurors were allowed to consider first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter convictions.

Authorities said the gun Garcia Zarate used was stolen from the vehicle of an off-duty agent for the Bureau of Land Management.

Sessions slammed the verdict Friday, telling Fox News that "it's time for this country to get its head on straight" because sanctuary cities like San Francisco "should not be protecting criminal aliens".

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