Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Feds indict SF immigrant acquitted in Kate Steinle's death

Feds indict SF immigrant acquitted in Kate Steinle's death

A grand jury on Tuesday indicted on federal charges an illegal immigrant from Mexico who was acquitted last week of murder by a San Francisco jury, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate deliberately fired into an unsuspecting crowd on the pier in July 2015, killing Steinle as she walked with her father.

The charges, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possessing a firearm and ammunition as an illegal alien, could bring Zarate a 10-year prison sentence.

CNN reached out to Garcia Zarate's attorneys on Tuesday but didn't receive an immediate response. The case has drawn national attention since then-presidential candidate Donald Trump seized on Garcia Zarate's history of deportations and illegal re-entry in the U.S.to criticize so-called sanctuary cities like San Francisco.

The Justice Department said that the federal charges are the result of an investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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The defendant accused of shooting Kate Steinle is facing new federal charges, just days after being acquitted of murder in a high-profile state trial. He has been in jail since the day of the shooting. But the jury did convict him of being a felon with a gun. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said the jury's decision was "hard to receive".

Gascón called out Trump, saying that "we shouldn't allow a madman that is tweeting dictate everything we do" when talking about the influence politics has had on the Steinle trial.

The defense in the case painted the shooting as a freak accident, arguing that the gun accidentally discharged and presenting evidence that the bullet ricocheted 78 feet across the concrete pier before hitting Steinle.

Zarate was acquitted of first and second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter on Thursday.

The case sparked a fierce debate over sanctuary cities, and forced San Francisco officials to defend its policy. The gun, a Sig Sauer P239 semiautomatic pistol, was stolen from an unlocked vehicle of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger, authorities said.

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