San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon held his first press conference Tuesday on the acquittal of a jury last week of a man in this country illegally accused of killing a woman in San Francisco.
Kathryn Steinle was shot in the back in July 2015 while walking with her father on Pier 14, in the heart of the city's tourist district. José Inés García Zárate, a criminal seven times who had been deported from the United States. UU To Mexico on numerous occasions, he was arrested less than an hour later a mile away.
Gascón said he had intentionally refrained from commenting much on the verdict because he wanted the attention to be focused on the Steinle family.
"Since the day the murder occurred, this case has been used as a political trick," he said. "It hurt me to see the politicians and candidates use the tragedy of this event to obtain political benefits."
On Tuesday night, federal authorities accused García Zárate of immigration and weapons violations.
After four days of deliberation, a jury in San Francisco condemned Garcia Zarate on Friday for a single charge of being a criminal in possession of a firearm. He has not been convicted yet.
Gascón said that although he does not agree with the jury's decision, he respects his work and the legal process.
"If there was any failure in the preparation and presentation of this case, the responsibility is mine and only mine," he said. "The homicide team in my office worked tirelessly in this case, and I hope that their hard work will be appreciated even if they could not secure a guilty verdict."
President Trump took to Twitter on Friday to attack the jury's decision, calling it a "shameful verdict."
"Kate Steinle's killer came back and came back on Obama's weakly protected border, always committing crimes and being violent, but this information was not used in the courtroom, his exoneration is a complete parody of justice BUILD THE WALL ! ", Wrote.
During the presidential campaign, Trump often cited the case to show the need to crack down on illegal immigration. At one point, he referred to Garcia Zarate as "this animal" that "shot that wonderful and beautiful woman in San Francisco".
Regarding a social media campaign that called for a boycott of San Francisco, Gascón said he supported the values of the city. San Francisco is one of the safest cities in the country, he said, "regardless of what those detractors say."
"It is important at times like this to remind ourselves that the vast majority of immigrants are respectful members of the law of our community," he said.
Some media outlets have indicated that Gascón's acquittal and initial restricted response could affect his offer for re-election in 2019. He said he was not avoiding the media and that he does not believe that a loss will direct the outcome of the elections. .
"At the end of the day, it will be up to the electorate," he said. "People are much smarter and smarter than we give them credit."
The trial depended on whether the jurors believed that the murder was intentional or, as the defense claimed, accidental. Prosecutors anchored their case in "implicit malice."
Prosecutors gave the jury the option of convicting Garcia Zarate, 45, of first or second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter.
Judge Samuel Feng did not allow the juries to consider the defendant's immigration status, his five deportations or his multiple drug convictions. They could only decide if they intentionally shot Steinle on July 1, 2015 or, at least, fired the gun with deliberate contempt for life.
His defense argued that the gun was accidentally fired at the defendant's hands. A few days before the shooting, the gun had been stolen near the parked car of a federal forester, but García Zárate, who said he had found the gun, was not charged with that crime.
Legal experts said prosecutors had an uphill battle because there was no clear reason in the case. It further confuses the shooter's intentions: evidence that the bullet hit the ground only 12 feet from the defendant before bouncing those 78 feet in Steinle.
Associated Press contributed to this report.