Mexican immigrant acquitted in shooting death of woman in San Francisco

A San Francisco jury found an undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder Thursday in a case that sparked national debate about sanctuary cities and USA immigration policy.

San Francisco prosecutors told the Superior Court jury that Garcia Zarate intentionally brought the gun to the pier that day with the intent of doing harm, aimed the gun toward Steinle and pulled the trigger.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, was found not guilty on all counts in the 2015 shooting, except for felony possession of a weapon. "They followed these ridiculous liberal policies, and because of their stupidity and their "form of justice" and caring more about the rights of illegal, convicted felons, tonight Kate Steinle is dead and her family has received no justice". The defense argued that the shooting was unintentional, that the defendant found the gun wrapped in a cloth under his seat at the pier and that it accidentally discharged. While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had issued a detainer for Zarate, he was released under the city's sanctuary laws.

"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.

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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. "This tragedy could have been prevented if San Francisco had simply turned the alien over to ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets".

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.

President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr. responded to the verdict and tweeted out saying: "What a disgrace". A federal judge dismissed the family's claims against San Francisco and former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi earlier this year.

Jim Steinle, left, father of Kate Steinle, walks toward the courtroom at the San Francisco Hall of Justice on October 23, 2017.

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Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate was playing his own "secret version of Russian roulette" and deliberately fired into an unsuspecting crowd on the pier, killing Steinle.

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 frightful tragedy", it was used as "political fodder for the then candidate Donald Trump's anti-immigration agenda", Fox News reported.

Steinle's death became a rallying cry for Trump and others, who have invoked the case in decrying sanctuary cities and promoting the construction of the border wall.

This summer, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3004, dubbed "Kate's Law" - a measure named for Steinle.

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  • Ryan Wade