Posted by on November 30, 2017 4:47 pm
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Categories: Bay Area

Jurors this afternoon found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the 45-year-old Mexican citizen charged in the 2015 fatal shooting of Kate Steinle, not guilty of murder charges.

The six-man, six-woman jury reached the verdict on the sixth day of deliberations following a four-week trial.

Garcia Zarate was charged with murder, assault with a deadly weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the death of Steinle, a 32-year-old Pleasanton native and San Francisco resident, on July 1, 2015.

The jury found him not guilty of the assault charge but convicted him of the possession charge.

Steinle was walking on Pier 14 with her father and a family friend around 6:30 p.m. when she was struck in the back by a single bullet that had ricocheted off the pier before it hit her.

Prosecutor Diana Garcia had argued the shooting was a deliberate act, while defense attorneys Matt Gonzalez and Francisco Ugarte described it as an accident, occurring after Garcia Zarate picked up a gun he found on the pier.

Garcia Zarate’s case triggered national controversy over San Francisco’s Sanctuary City policies when it became known that he had been released from city jail several months earlier without notification to federal immigration authorities. Sanctuary City policies limit cooperation between local law enforcement and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Garcia Zarate has prior convictions for a drug charge and for re-entering the country after deportation. He had just completed a federal prison sentence for re-entering the country after deportation when he was transferred to San Francisco by federal authorities based on a warrant for a marijuana charge.

That charge was dismissed by San Francisco prosecutors after he arrived.

Garcia Zarate’s immigration status has not played a role in the case presented by prosecutors.