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01 December 2017, 06:27 | Katrina Lee
Mexican Man Found Not Guilty of Murder Charges in 2015 Fatal Shooting of Kate Steinle
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, arrested in connection with the July 1, 2015, shooting of Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco, is led into the Hall of Justice for his arraignment in San Francisco on July 7, 2015.
He had been deported from the United States five times prior to Steinle's death.
Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Steinle "would still be alive if we had a wall", referring to President Trump's call for the construction of a border wall between the USA and Mexico.
The San Francisco sheriff's department had released Zarate from jail before the shooting, despite a federal immigration request to detain him for deportation. Defense attorneys argued that Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident. "It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others", defense attorney Francisco Ugarte said after the verdict. He said the immigration status of defendant had no relevance to the case, and the verdict was a correct reflection of what transpired.
The verdict was announced on Thursday, almost a week after the jury began deliberating. Jurors convicted the Mexican citizen only of being a felon in possession of a firearm Thursday, in the sixth day of deliberations after receiving the case last week.
President Donald Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr. responded to the verdict and tweeted out saying: "What a disgrace".
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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 awful tragedy", it was used as "political fodder for the then candidate Donald Trump's anti-immigration agenda", Fox News reported.
He pointed out that Zarate was a seven-time felon who had been deported from the USA five times before the fatal shooting.
That charge was dismissed by San Francisco prosecutors after he arrived.
In an interview with local media, Zarate said he had made his way to San Francisco because he knew he would be less likely to be deported because of the city's sanctuary policies. The maximum sentence he faces is three years, according to a detailed report on the outcome from Vivian Ho at the San FranciscoChronicle.
Trump also mentioned Steinle in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention after winning the Republican presidential nomination. The bullet, shot from a stolen gun, ricocheted off the concrete before striking Steinle.
In June, the House of Representatives passed "Kate's Law", a measure named for the victim that would increase maximum prison penalties for immigrants caught repeatedly entering the United States illegally.
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