Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, the illegal immigrant who shot and killed Kate Steinle in the summer of 2015, was acquitted of a murder charge on Thursday evening.
A San Francisco jury found Zarate to be not guilty of first and second-degree murder as well as assault. He was, however, found to be guilty of illegally possessing a firearm.
Zarate’s lawyer, Matt Gonzalez, stated that the verdict doesn’t diminish “in any way the awful tragedy that occurred” and it “should be respected.”
“They heard the evidence,” said Gonzalez. “They deliberated as a group. They heard read back testimony. They looked at the physical evidence and they rendered a verdict to the best of their abilities in accordance with the law.”
Steinle’s father, Jim, who was with his daughter during her last moments, lamented, “Justice was rendered, but it was not served.”
President Trump criticized the verdict on Twitter:
On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that they would be arresting Zarate. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said on Thursday that they would deport Zarate.
Steinle was killed by a gun shot in San Francisco in July 2015 as she was walking along Pier 14 with her father. According to Jim Steinle, his daughter’s last words were, “Help me Dad.”
The prosecution argued that Zarate had intended to murder Steinle since he was playing some sort of “Russian roulette.” The defense countered that the gun accidentally discharged and Zarate threw it into the bay because he was startled by its noise. Some have argued that Zarate should have been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
Zarate was deported five times prior to the shooting, but was allowed to walk the streets of San Francisco as a homeless illegal immigrant due to the city’s sanctuary city policy, igniting a nationwide debate about the policy.