Jury finds undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder of Kate Steinle

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San Francisco's "sanctuary city" law limits cooperation with USA immigration authorities.

The jury of six men and six women started deliberations last Tuesday and considered dueling arguments that Garcia Zarate was either a hapless, homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident or a calculated murderer intent on playing a sick game.

The six-man, six-woman jury was asked to consider first-degree murder, second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges against Garcia Zarate.

A San Fransisco jury has acquitted an undocumented immigrant who was charged with the murder of Kate Steinle.

"There was a tremendous amount of misinformation that was spread about this case from day one", San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi told reporters outside the courtroom.

Zarate had claimed he found the gun used in the shooting wrapped in a T-shirt under a bench and that it went off accidentally.

Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing remarks that he knows it's hard to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon that fired when he picked it up.

But he told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and that as very bad as her death was, "nothing you do is going to fix that".

But in a police interrogation, Garcia Zarate admitted to firing the gun, saying he was aiming at a seal.

Kate Steinle
Jury finds undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder of Kate Steinle

Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend on a sunny day in July 2015 when she was shot, collapsing into her father's arms.

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.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump cited the Steinle killing as a justification for his intended crackdown on immigration. The defense also offered expert witnesses who testified that the bullet ricocheted off of the ground and traveled about 78 feet before striking Steinle.

The gun was stolen four days before the killing from the parked auto of a visiting Bureau of Land Management ranger.

Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and had been transferred to San Francisco's jail in March 2015 to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.

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. Under local sanctuary city rules, local law enforcement won't hold a person beyond the term of their incarceration.

"My opponent wants Sanctuary Cities".

Garcia Zarate had been deported from the United States back to Mexico five times.

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

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