Skip to main content

Illegal Immigrant Found 'Not Guilty' in Shooting Death That Fueled Immigration Debate


Share This article

A surprise "not- guilty" verdict in the case of an illegal immigrant charged with murdering a woman in San Francisco. 

Thirty-two-year-old Kate Steinle was walking on a San Francisco pier with her father two years ago when she was shot dead. The man holding the gun, on the other end of the bullet that killed her is Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant with multiple felony convictions. He'd been deported five times before he wound up in San Francisco that day. After more than a month of testimony and six days of deliberation a jury found him not guilty.

"We believe the verdict is a correct and accurate reflection of the law and what happened," said attorney Jeff Adachi who represented Zarate.

Zarate says he found the gun under a chair on the pier and fired it accidentally while handling it. The bullet richocheted off the ground before hitting Steinle. 

Jurers in the case were ordered not to factor in Zarate's immigration status; but, Steinle's death at the hands of an illegal immigrant in a sanctuary city is a flash point in the debate over immigration.

"From day one, this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division, to foment a program of mass deportation," Adachi told reporters.

President Donald Trump references the case often when talking about deportations and building a border wall.

After the jury's decision he tweeted, "A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration."

Followed by this tweet, "The jury was not told the killer of Kate was a 7 time felon. The Schumer/Pelosi Democrats are so weak on Crime that they will pay a big price in the 2018 and 2020 Elections."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in a statement, says Zarate would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city honored an ICE detainer. He also added that the Department of Justice will work to ensure all localities place the safety of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens.

His office is considering filing federal charges against Zarate.

Meanwhile, the Steinle family, unwittingly thrust into the center of a political debate, tells the San Francisco Chronicle they want to move on with their lives and remember Kate on their terms.

Share This article