Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Illegal alien acquitted in killing faces new US counts

Illegal alien acquitted in killing faces new US counts

A federal grand jury has indicted a Mexican man on immigration and weapons charges after he was acquitted of murder in the 2015 shooting death of Kathryn Steinle, the Justice Department said Tuesday.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was indicted in by a federal grand jury on federal charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm, according to records.

The new charges appear to signal that federal authorities hope to try, convict and incarcerate the five-time deportee before he is ultimately expelled from the U.S.

He remains in state custody, according to the indictment.

The federal indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and California-based Justice Department officials.

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Garcia Zarate, who had served a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry to the United States, was transferred in March of 2015 to San Francisco's jail to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.

Garcia-Zarate's public defenders said the shooting was accidental, that the gun went off unintentionally after Garcia-Zarate found it wrapped in a rag beneath a bench.

George Gascón, district attorney for the city and county of San Francisco, would not comment on the developments but talked to reporters about the recent trial.

The case also caught the attention of presidential candidate Donald Trump past year, who used it to highlight crime committed by undocumented immigrants during his campaign.

San Francisco prohibits city law enforcement officers from asking about immigration status or detaining people exclusively on the basis of civil immigration detainers after they are eligible for release.

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Steinle, 32, was fatally shot on San Francisco's Pier 14 on July 1, 2015. He said it fired accidentally when he picked it up.

30 rejected charges of first- and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a semiautomatic pistol.

The jury deliberated for six days before issuing its decision.

The case sparked a fierce debate over sanctuary cities, and forced San Francisco officials to defend its policy.

Sanctuary City policies, which have been in place in San Francisco in some form since the 1980s and are used by several hundred other cities and counties nationwide, are meant to promote public safety by encouraging immigrants to report crimes and cooperate with police.

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