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In case that sparked a national debate, immigrant acquitted in San Francisco pier killing

By in Press Enterprise on December 1, 2017

By Bay Area News Group


SAN FRANCISCO — After nearly a week of deliberations, a jury of six men and six women on Thursday found an undocumented immigrant accused of fatally shooting 32-year-old Kate Steinle two years ago at San Francisco’s Pier 14 not guilty of murder charges.

The jury, which includes three immigrants, weighed charges against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 54, accused of gunning down Steinle in July 2015 while she was walking with her father in the city’s Embarcadero district. Jurors started deliberating Nov. 21 but took a break because of the Thanksgiving holiday last week.

The jury considered first-degree, second-degree, or involuntary manslaughter for Garcia Zarate, who also faces charges of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In an interview following the verdict, defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said this “verdict should be respected.”

Gonzalez said he was bracing for criticism of the verdict from the White House and said it was important to remember that the president, vice president, and attorney general were under investigation themselves and should appreciate that they would be afforded the protections of the justice system.

“Before you start tweeting or commenting on this outcome, just reflect on the fact that all of us get these protections. We get a right to a jury. We get these burdens of proof. We have to respect that a jury that spent this much time on this case got it right.”

The high-profile case against Garcia Zarate attracted national attention when details emerged about his immigration status. At the time of the shooting in 2015, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and others blamed San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy for Steinle’s death. Garcia Zarate had been deported five times but was released from a San Francisco jail after being held on a drug charge instead of being sent back […]    

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