Mexican acquitted in San Francisco pier shooting faces new gun, immigration charges

Defendant in Kate Steinle case indicted on federal firearm possession charges

Federal firearm charges have been filed against an undocumented immigrant acquitted in San Francisco last week in the shooting death of Kate Steinle.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was indicted on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and for being an illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm, the statement said. The indictment charges Garcia Zarate, 47, with handling a semi-automaic pistol and multiple rounds of ammunition on July 1, 2015, the day Steinle was shot and killed on San Francisco's Pier 14. Garcia Zarate was released in San Francisco two months before Steinle's death despite a request from immigration authorities to turn him over for deportation.

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

The allegations mirror the lower charge Garcia Zarate was convicted of in state court.

He was, however, convicted of possessing a firearm as a felon.

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San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon on Tuesday defended his office's handling of the case. Garcia Zarate, 54, had been deported five times.

The defense in the case painted the shooting as a freak accident, arguing that the gun accidentally discharged and presenting evidence that the bullet ricocheted 78 feet across the concrete pier before hitting Steinle.

Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate admitted to the killing of Steinle in 2015, but said that the gun he found under a San Francisco bench went off accidentally. Her death has now become a rallying cry for more stringent immigration laws, including a crackdown on "sanctuary cities" and the creation of a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border. Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed as much on Fox News, saying Garcia Zarate will continue to remain in custody before he's ultimately deported.

Trump in a tweet called the not guilty verdict in the case "disgraceful" and said "No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration". President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding to cities with similar immigration policies, but a federal judge in California permanently blocked his executive order.

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