Illegal Migrant in Kate Steinle Killing Escapes Guilty Verdict for Gun Possession

Jose-ines-Garcia-Zarate-lopez-sanchez-kate-Steinle
AP Photo

A California appeals court judge has vacated the 2017 guilty verdict for the illegal migrant who allegedly shot Kate Steinle on a San Francisco waterfront in 2015.

The jury did not convict the man, Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, for her murder, but agreed in November 2017 he was guilty of being a felon in possession of a gun.

Zarate had been deported five times, and Steinle’s killing spotlighted the federal government’s weak enforcement of migration laws during Donald Trump’s winning 2016 campaign.

The Associated Press reported:

The public defender who represented an immigrant who fatally shot a woman on the San Francisco waterfront in 2015 says he is gratified a state appeals court reversed the man’s conviction on a charge of being a felon in possession of a gun, the one count on which he was found guilty.

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the conviction against Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate because the judge failed to instruct the jury on his defense that he only momentarily possessed the gun.

The Associated Press also reported further comments:

Tony Serra, the attorney who is representing Garcia-Zarate on federal charges of gun possession and being in the country illegally, said his client is in custody and faces a Jan. 13 [federal] trial.

He said the state reversal means the [federal] district attorney will have the option of re-trying Garcia-Zarate on those charges.

“That kind of error causes reversals all the time. Then the prosecution has the prerogative of going again,” Serra said. “The state case is a heavier case because it’s a homicide and a gun. … It’s going to be a big potential decision on what they’re going to do.”

In November 2017, Trump denounced the not-guilty verdict on the murder charge against Zarate.

The legal process is not completed. Garcia-Zarate faces federal charges for illegal possession of a gun.

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