Garcia Zarate found not guilty in Steinle murder case

Kate Steinle

At trial, Zarate admitted to firing the shot that killed Steinle, 32, but contended that he had picked up a gun underneath a bench on the San Francisco pier and accidentally fired it July 1, 2015.

Garcia Zarate has prior convictions for a drug charge and for re-entering the country after deportation.

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.

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.

President Trump later signed an executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with US immigration authorities, a policy that a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked Monday.

Zarate's defense lawyer, Francisco Ugarte, remarked that the death of Steinle was an "incomprehensible tragedy" but also commented that the ruling was a vindication for immigrants.

Reaction to the jury's decision poured into social media Thursday night, with lawmakers and individuals on both the right and left expressing their displeasure and claiming San Francisco's status as a sanctuary city was to blame for what happened.

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"Her death was preventable - and it should have been prevented", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in July.

Trump signed an executive order to withhold funding from sanctuary cities, but a federal judge recently blocked it in a lawsuit from two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara.

Steinle's death put San Francisco and its "sanctuary city" policy in the spotlight, as Democrats and Republicans lashed out at city officials for refusing to cooperate with federal deportation efforts. "He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle", she said. The maximum sentence he faces is three years, according to a detailed report on the outcome from Vivian Ho at the San Francisco Chronicle.

But he told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and as terrible as her death was, "nothing you do is going to fix that". San Francisco still won't honor a federal detainer request unless the detainee has committed a violent or serious felony in the past seven years.

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.

The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway and fatally struck Steinle in the back. But it's unlikely to have enough votes to pass the Senate, which struggled with Kate's Law past year.

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