U.S. prosecutors seek arrest of illegal
immigrant acquitted of Kate Steinle murder
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[December 02, 2017]
By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on
Friday sought to arrest an illegal immigrant acquitted of murdering a
San Francisco woman in a case raised during the 2016 presidential
campaign, saying his conviction on a lesser weapons charge violated the
terms of his supervised release.
A San Francisco Superior Court jury on Thursday found Jose Ines Garcia
Zarate, 45, not guilty of murder and manslaughter charges in connection
with the July 1, 2015, death of Kate Steinle. Jurors found him guilty of
being a felon in possession of a firearm.
President Donald Trump, who had used the Steinle case as a rallying cry
against the pro-immigration policies of so-called sanctuary cities
during his successful run for the presidency, called the verdict
"disgraceful" on Twitter.
Sanctuary cities such as San Francisco limit their cooperation with
federal immigration authorities.
Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate, who had been deported to Mexico five
times, had been released from a San Francisco jail despite a request by
immigration authorities that he be detained and turned over to them.
In seeking an arrest warrant on Friday, federal prosecutors said that
Garcia Zarate's conviction on the weapons charge violated the conditions
of his supervised release from federal custody in March 2015 after
nearly four years in prison, just months before Steinle's killing.
The arrest warrant was dated 2015, but was amended and unsealed
following the verdicts.
Garcia Zarate also faces sentencing in San Francisco Superior Court on
the weapons charge, and it was not clear which jurisdiction would take
The jurors who acquitted Garcia Zarate, who previously was known as Juan
Francisco Lopez Sanchez, did not speak to reporters following their
[to top of second column]
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,
California, U.S. on July 7, 2015. REUTERS/Michael Macor/Pool/File
They apparently agreed with defense attorneys who said during the
trial that Garcia Zarate found the gun and it accidentally
discharged, with the bullet ricocheting off the ground at a pier
frequented by tourists before striking Steinle.
Prosecutors had argued Garcia Zarate intentionally fired the gun.
In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed "Kate’s Law,"
which would increase penalties for illegal immigrants who return to
the United States. The bill has not passed the U.S. Senate.
Since taking office as president in January, Trump and his attorney
general, Jeff Sessions, have sought to cut federal funding for
sanctuary cities but have suffered setbacks in court.
In a statement after the verdict, Sessions said San Francisco
officials’ "decision to protect criminal aliens led to the
preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle."
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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