Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Mexican off hook in Kate Steinle murder facing new, federal charges

Mexican off hook in Kate Steinle murder facing new, federal charges

San Francisco's district attorney is defending the handling of a murder trial that ended with the acquittal of a Mexican man whose arrest set off a fierce national debate on immigration.

Garcia Zarate was indicted by a federal grand jury today on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In an interview with CNN affiliate KGO, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate (left) admitted that he shot Steinle but that the shooting was an accident.

Zarate faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail for each charge. He has been in jail since the day of the shooting.

Federal officials already have a criminal warrant signed by a judge in 2015 for Garcia Zarate, and he will be released to the U.S. Marshal once he is eligible to be released following the conclusion of his state case, according to the San Francisco Sheriff's Department.

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Garcia Zarate has been deported and had returned to the United States five times.

30 rejected charges of first- and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a semiautomatic pistol.

Shockingly, the jury was not told that Zarate was a 7-time convicted felon when deciding his verdict. He said it fired accidentally when he picked it up.

The killing of Steinle became linked with the controversy over illegal immigration, and President Donald Trump referred to the case in pushing for stricter policies and in criticizing so-called "sanctuary cities".

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San Francisco prohibits city law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status or detaining people exclusively on the basis of civil immigration detainers after they are eligible for release.

Gascón called out Trump, saying that "we shouldn't allow a madman that is tweeting dictate everything we do" when talking about the influence politics has had on the Steinle trial.

San Francisco is one of 200 sanctuary cities around the country, so the local police don't have to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

However critics have argued they encourage crime, and the current administration has made several attempts to punish Sanctuary City jurisdictions by withholding federal grant funds.

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