Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Prosecutor laments verdict in pier shooting case

Prosecutor laments verdict in pier shooting case

Garcia Zarate was found not guilty on the charges of first degree murder, second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.

In this July 17, 2015 photo, flowers and a portrait of Kate Steinle remain at a memorial site on Pier 14 in San Francisco.

Trump frequently highlighted Steinle's case on the campaign trail, including in his speech at the Republican National Convention last summer when he accepted the party's presidential nomination.

A jury on Thursday found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty in the death of Kate Steinle, a case that sparked a nationwide debate on immigration.

The Bureau of Land Management previously said that the gun belonged to one of its enforcement rangers and was stolen from a federal agent's vehicle.

Kathryn Steinle was fatally wounded while walking the San Francisco waterfront in 2015 by Zarate who had been deported to Mexico on five previous occasions. "It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others", defense attorney Francisco Ugarte said after the verdict.

The six-man, six-woman jury reached the verdict on the sixth day of deliberations following a four-week trial.

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A prosecutor said in her closing arguments November 20 that Zarate was "playing his own secret version of Russian roulette" when he shot and killed Steinle in July 2015.

The sheriff's department released him a few days later after prosecutors dropped the marijuana charge, despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deportation. He had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and was transferred in March 2015 to San Francisco's jail to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.

Despite the national political implications, the San Francisco jury was charged with a more discreet task of criminal culpability for Steinle's death.

Yet in aftermath of his sister's death, Brad Steinle spoke out against then-candidate Trump for "sensationalizing" her death. Under local sanctuary city rules, local law enforcement won't hold a person beyond the term of their incarceration. "I urge 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".

President Donald Trump said during the 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.

Defense attorneys have told jurors that Garcia Zarate lived on the streets of San Francisco after being released from jail, scraping together a living by collecting recyclables and scavenging for food.

"My opponent wants Sanctuary Cities. It's disconcerting", Brad Steinle told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

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