The jury deciding the case in which a 7-time felon killed Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco reached a verdict Thursday evening – Jose Inez Garcia Zarate was found not guilty on charges of the murder or involuntary manslaughter of Ms. Steinle.
Kathryn “Kate” Steinle was walking on a pier in San Francisco in 2015 when Zarate admittedly fired a stolen gun in her direction. The bullet glanced off of a nearby concrete surface and struck Steinle in the back, ultimately killing her. Zarate then tossed the gun into the bay before fleeing the scene – a clear indication of knowledge of guilt.
Zarate was convicted seven times of various felonies and was an illegal immigrant who continually returned to the United States each of the five times he was deported. His felony convictions range from immigration crimes to possession and sale of narcotics.
San Francisco is a sanctuary city that does not seek to ascertain the status of immigrants in their city nor do they honor immigration detainers issued by federal immigration authorities. Zarate had been arrested a few days before Steinle’s murder, but was released despite a federal immigration detainer that would have kept him in custody until ICE agents could take him into custody pending an immigration hearing.
While Zarate was found innocent in Steinle’s death he was convicted of illegal possession of a firearm by a felon.
The suspect’s defense centered on his claim that he found the gun wrapped in a t-shirt and when he picked it up, it just went off.
Near the end of the trial, the jury asked the judge to examine the firearm that Zarate used to kill Ms. Steinle. Some believe that it was to determine how easily the gun could have been accidentally fired.
It is unclear how the convicted felon avoided a guilty verdict on the charge of involuntary manslaughter. It was proven that Zarate fired the gun and that the bullet that killed Steinle came from that gun. An accidental or negligent discharge that results in the death of another fits the definition of the crime.
Involuntary Manslaughter: noun – the crime of killing another human being unlawfully but unintentionally.
San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia said that Garcia Zarate fired the weapon and created a risk of death by bringing the firearm to the pier that day and twirling around on a chair for at least 20 minutes before he fired.
“He did kill someone. He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle,” she said.
After the verdict was read, Zarate’s legal representatives launched into a hyper-political rant on racism, hate, immigrants and President Donald Trump.
“From day one, this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division and to foment a program of mass deportation,” Zarate’s Defense Attorney Matt Gonzalez. “I believe today is a vindication of the rights of immigrants.” The public defender then attempted to make a bizarre comparison of Zarate to President Trump by saying that the commander-in-chief should appreciate justice because of the special counsel investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 campaign.
The charge for a felon in possession of a firearm carries a 2-5 year sentence and would likely be handed a prison term of 2 years which means that he could be let off with time served.
Zarate still awaits a federal trial on immigration charges which could lead to his 6th deportation and he has proven skillful at returning to the United States after such action.
update: This article was updated to include a direct quote from Zarate’s defense attorney