Undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder in polarizing San Francisco case

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate has been cleared of his part in the death of Kate Steinle

The jury, who had been deliberating since last Tuesday, with a break over the Thanksgiving holiday, sided with the public defender that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a Mexican national, accidentally killed Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old East Bay woman who had been out for dinner with her father the night she was shot. Languishing in seventh behind his Republican competitors at the time, just two weeks into his campaign, Trump used Garcia Zarate's past-he had been deported from the USA five times and had seven felony convictions, including drug charges-as proof of his campaign's anti-immigrant operating thesis.

In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia said the suspect found the gun somewhere and deliberately fired at Steinle in "his own secret version of Russian roulette".

Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez added: "The verdict does not diminish in any way the bad tragedy" the Steinle family went through.

President Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign that Steinle's death was another reason the United States needed to build a wall on its southern border and tighten its immigration policies.

Steinle died in July 2015. It's unclear how the gun got to the pier. They say San Francisco's status as a "sanctuary city" limits their cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities. Zarate's defense attorneys, Matt Gonzalez and Francisco Ugarte were both quick to connect the verdict to President Trump.

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While the jurors didn't hear evidence regarding Zarate's immigration status, the shooting came roughly three months after a San Francisco jail released him despite federal immigration authorities' request he remain detained before his deportation.

The case gained national attention during the 2016 presidential race when then-candidate Donald Trump cited it as an example of why the sanctuary cities, which limit a city's cooperation with the federal government's efforts to enforce immigration law, should be ended.

A jury found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty in the killing of Kate Steinle, who was strolling with her father on a crowded San Francisco pier when she was shot in 2015.

The weapon, as it turned out, had been stolen from a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger a week before. Instead of deporting him, federal authorities sent him to San Francisco on a 20-year-old drug warrant for a small amount of marijuana.

Defense attorneys have told jurors that Garcia Zarate lived on the streets of San Francisco after being released from jail, scraping together a living by collecting recyclables and scavenging for food. "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". The administration has appealed.

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