A jury on Thursday found the undocumented immigrant who shot 32-year-old Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015 not guilty in her death, a case that sparked a fierce national debate on immigration policies.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was in the US illegally after five previous deportations, had been released from a San Francisco jail several months before the shooting – in spite of a request by federal immigration authorities that he continue to be detained. The case drew attention to San Francisco’s “Sanctuary city” policies, which then-candidate Donald Trump blamed for Steinle’s death at the Republican National Convention.
Lawyers for Garcia Zarate had argued that characterizing him as a violent immigrant didn’t line up with the evidence.
Jurors considered charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter, ultimately acquitting Garcia Zarate after six days of deliberations.
“He did kill someone. He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle,” San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia told the jury on Nov. 21, according to the AP.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez had on Nov. 20 told jurors that prosecutors’ version of events was a “Wild narrative of a desire to hurt someone he does not know.”
On Thursday, he said the verdict should not be interpreted as an affront to the grief felt by Steinle’s family.