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Mexican immigrant acquitted in shooting death of woman in San Francisco

01 December, 2017, 05:36 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • Calif.-Sanctuary-State

Garcia Zarate's case triggered national controversy over San Francisco's Sanctuary City policies when it became known that he had been released from city jail several months earlier without notification to federal immigration authorities.

A jury has reached a verdict Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in the trial of Mexican man at center of immigration debate in the San Francisco pier shooting.

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.

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The jury considered first-degree and second-degree murder charges, as well as involuntary manslaughter charges against Garcia Zarate, but, after six days of deliberation, found the 45-year-old Mexican citizen guilty only of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Prosecutors said he meant to shoot and kill her.

President Trump later signed an executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with US immigration authorities, a policy that a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked Monday.

The bullet that felled Steinle ricocheted off the pier's concrete walkway before it struck the victim.

The jury seemed to have been convinced by defense arguments that Garcia-Zarate had no direct intention of firing the.40-caliber Sig Sauer pistol that he found that day on the waterfront, four days after it had been stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger's vehicle nearby.




Donald Trump used Steinle's killing and Garcia Zarate's trial in his campaign for president, while calling for tougher immigration laws.

Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing argument that he knows it's hard to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon, which fired when he picked it up.

Instead, she painted a picture of a man who hid a firearm in his baggy clothes, went to a pier filled with tourists and whirled about on a stool for more than 20 minutes before shooting it at Steinle's back. The Bureau of Land Management previously said that the gun belonged to one of its enforcement rangers and was stolen from a federal agent's auto.

Trump signed an executive order to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, but a federal judge recently blocked it in a lawsuit from two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara. A local ordinance prohibits employees from helping Immigration and Customs Enforcement with immigration investigations or arrests "unless such help is required by federal or state law or a warrant".

ICE also requested an immigration detainer so the agency would be notified if he was released. On April 15, 2015, Zarate was freed from the San Francisco County Jail.

Garcia Zarate had been deported from the United States back to Mexico five times. "It's disconcerting", Brad Steinle told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

"Her death was preventable - and it should have been prevented", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in July.

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