Kate Steinle shooting: Mexican Garcia Zarate acquitted of murder


Kate Steinle shooting: Mexican Garcia Zarate acquitted of murder

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Kate Steinle was 32 when she was fatally shot while walking with her father

An illegal immigrant from Mexico charged with the fatal 2015 shooting of a young woman in San Francisco has been acquitted of murder.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported from the US five times, was accused of killing Kate Steinle in a case which highlighted a failure in the state to enforce immigration laws.

Garcia Zarate was found not guilty on charges of murder and manslaughter.

US President Donald Trump later tweeted that the verdict was "disgraceful".

Garcia Zarate, previously identified as Francisco Sanchez, had been held in prison shortly before the killing but was released by the San Francisco sheriff's department.

His release, under the so-called sanctuary city law which limits co-operation with federal immigration authorities, sparked a political debate in the US over the country's immigration policy.

  • US immigration debate: What is a sanctuary city?

The verdict has been met with outrage from some Republican lawmakers and conservative commentators.

Mr Trump wrote on Twitter that the result was "disgraceful", adding: "No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found guilty of illegal possession of a firearm

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that he urged "the leaders of the nation's communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers".

Garcia Zarate was charged in July 2015 with the shooting of Ms Steinle, 32, while she was walking with her father and a friend on Pier 14 in San Francisco.

On Thursday, he was cleared of murder and manslaughter but convicted by a jury of illegal possession of a firearm.

His defence team had argued that the gun went off by accident and the bullet ricocheted into Ms Steinle, who died in the arms of her father.

The prosecution argued he intentionally fired a stolen weapon.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Mr Trump frequently highlighted the case as he argued for tighter immigration controls and for so-called sanctuary cities to be penalised.

Mr Trump referred to the death of Ms Steinle as "a senseless and totally preventable violent act committed by an illegal immigrant".

In June, Mr Trump announced a plan called "Kate's law", which he said would increase penalties for immigrants who re-enter the US after they have been deported.

"From Day 1 this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division and to foment a program of mass deportation," defence lawyer Francisco Ugarte was quoted as saying by the Associated Press after the verdict.

"It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others."

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