Washington, DC, USA: Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, the undocumented Mexican immigrant found not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle last week, was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday, authorities announced.
The Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Garcia Zarate is being charged with one count of possession of a firearm and one count of an immigrant in possession of a firearm.
During his murder trial, Zarate admitted to firing a single shot from a .40 caliber Sig Sauer and hitting Steinle as she walked with her father on a San Francisco pier on July 1, 2015. He claimed he fired accidentally.
Zarate is currently in state custody after he was found guilty on one count of possession of a firearm. If convicted, Zarate faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison before a potential deportation.
EARLIER: ICE To Deport Mexican Undocumented Immigrant Acquitted Of Murdering Kate Steinle – U.S. immigration officials say they will deport Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the Mexican man that a jury today, Thursday, found not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle in the San Francisco pier shooting in July 2015. Attorney General Sessions also released the following statement on the Verdict in People of the State of California vs. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate aka Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez:
“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. San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle.
While the State of California sought a murder charge for the man who caused Ms. Steinle’s death—a man who would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city simply honored an ICE detainer—the people ultimately convicted him of felon in possession of a firearm.
The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that all jurisdictions place the safety and security of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens. I urge the leaders of the nation’s communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) released a statement Thursday night blasting San Francisco for not cooperating with federal immigration authorities before the deadly shooting, arguing the city could have prevented Steinle’s death.
“San Francisco’s policy of refusing to honor ICE detainers is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law,” ICE Deputy Director Tom Homan said in the statement. “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.”
“It is unconscionable that politicians across this country continue to endanger the lives of Americans with sanctuary policies while ignoring the harm inflicted on their constituents,” he added. “Following the conclusion of this case, ICE will work to take custody of Mr. Garcia Zarate and ultimately remove him from the country.
Trump on Thursday called the verdict “disgraceful” on his Twitter handle:
Donald J. Trump Verified account @realDonaldTrump : A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.
EARLIER : Jury finds Mexican Undocumented Immigrant Not Guilty Of Murdering Kate Steinle – The undocumented immigrant who killed Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015 has been found not guilty of murder. Jurors began deliberating Tuesday in the murder trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of murder in the first and second degree, as well as an alternate charge of involuntary manslaughter, in the death of 32-year old Kate Steinle. He was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The decision indicates that the jury of six women and six men was convinced that the shooting was an accident.
Garcia Zarate, 45, was accused of fatally shooting Steinle, 32, with a Sig Sauer .40-caliber handgun as she and her father walked on San Francisco’s Pier 14. Garcia Zarate, faced a charge of second-degree murder, but jurors were also allowed to consider first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter convictions.
Jurors had to decide whether Garcia Zarate shot Steinle unintentionally or committed murder.
The basic question the jury had to decide was whether Garcia Zarate intentionally and willfully fired the single shot that killed Kate Steinle. The prosecution said that Garcia Zarate fired a handgun deliberately in Steinle’s direction, seeking to harm her or others.
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. The defense also offered expert witnesses who testified that the bullet ricocheted off of the ground and traveled about 78 feet before striking Steinle.
The case became a political lightning rod in the debate over immigration policy.
Garcia Zarate had been deported from the US five times prior to Steinle’s 2015 death in San Francisco.
Garcia Zarate was formerly known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, one of several aliases he is known to have used.
Garcia Zarate’s undocumented status and San Francisco’s status as a “sanctuary city” prompted widespread debate over immigration policies.
Garcia Zarate had been deported from the United States back to Mexico five times. Before the shooting, officials in San Francisco released him from custody instead of turning him over to immigration authorities.
Steinle’s death became a rallying cry for President Donald Trump and others, who have invoked the case in decrying sanctuary cities and promoting the construction of a border wall between the US and Mexico.
In June, the House of Representatives passed “Kate’s Law,” a bill that would create harsher penalties for repeat illegal entry to the US. The bill would also expand US law to pressure local cities to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.
This summer, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3004, dubbed “Kate’s Law” — a measure named for Steinle. The legislation would increase maximum prison penalties for immigrants caught repeatedly entering the US illegally.
The measure was introduced in the Senate but failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass.