A jury has reached a verdict Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in the trial of Mexican man at center of immigration debate in the San Francisco pier shooting. Garcia Zarate was convicted of a lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a gun.
Kate Steinle (right) was shot and killed on July 1, 2015, near San Francisco's Pier 14. The defense had argued that the incident was a tragic accident, and that the gun Garcia Zarate, 45, was holding discharged accidentally and the bullet ricocheted for 78 feet before hitting Steinle. He was also said to have been released from a San Francisco jail about three months before the shooting, despite a request from the federal immigration authorities asking to detain him for deportation.
In September, a federal judge in Chicago ruled the U.S. Justice Department can't withhold millions of dollars in grants supporting public safety from cities that refuse to share with federal officials the immigration status of suspects in custody.
Several months after Steinle's death, Trump claimed that she had been shot five times.
"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.
"For those who might criticize the verdict, there are a number of people that have commented on this case in the last couple years, the attorney general of the United States, the President and the Vice President of the United States (Mike Pence)", Gonzalez said, "let me just remind them that they are themselves under investigation by a special prosecutor in Washington DC, and they may themselves, soon avail themselves of the presumptions of innocence and the beyond a reasonable doubt standard and so I would ask them to reflect on that before they comment or disparage the result in this case".
Trump has said that Steinle's death, just two weeks after he launched his presidential campaign, is emblematic of the problems in the US immigration system, particularly the continued existence of sanctuary cities where local officials refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. "San Francisco's decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle".
After the verdict, a Public Defender Jeff Adachi also released a statement saying Zarate was "extremely relieved" by the decision and while Steinle's death "was a disgusting tragedy", it was used as "political fodder for the then candidate Donald Trump's anti-immigration agenda", Fox News reported. Prosecutors said he meant to shoot and kill her.
Jim Steinle, left, father of Kate Steinle, walks toward the courtroom at the San Francisco Hall of Justice on October 23, 2017. Instead of deporting him, federal authorities sent him to San Francisco on a 20-year-old drug warrant for a small amount of marijuana. "That won't happen if I become President".
This summer, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3004, dubbed "Kate's Law" - a measure named for Steinle. But it's unlikely to have enough votes to pass the Senate, which struggled with Kate's Law a year ago.