A Mexican will be deported after being found not guilty of the murder of Kate Steinle, whose death while walking on a pier in San Francisco sparked a national debate over immigration policy.
The juries acquitted José Inés García Zárate, 45, of murder and involuntary manslaughter, as well as badault with a deadly weapon. He was found guilty of being a criminal in possession of a firearm.
The undocumented immigrant faces up to three years in prison, but has already spent more than two years in jail awaiting trial and can obtain credit for the time granted. He has not been sentenced.
Before the fatal shooting of Steinle in July 2015, García Zarate was deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation for drug-related offenses.
According to a city sanctuary law, the San Francisco authorities he custody three months before the shooting, instead of handing it over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
& # 39; I'm not surprised & # 39;
Authorities said that the weapon García Zarate used was stolen from the off-duty automobile agent of the Land Administration Office.
Kate Steinle's brother said that the theft of the gun triggered a series of system failures that culminated in the failure.
"I'm not surprised, the system failed Kate from the beginning of this chain of events, why would the verdict be different?" Said Brad Steinle. "From the drug charge, to be thrown in. Not to be stopped by ICE The BLM agent leaves a loaded gun in an unlocked car, it's a failure after the failure."
Steinle said the verdict does not affect them in any way.
"Kate is gone, the strength we have comes from Kate, her memory is with us," she said.
Debate on the Sanctuary City
The case sparked a fierce debate over sanctuary cities and forced San Francisco officials to defend their policy. President Donald Trump invoked the case to condemn sanctuary cities and promote the construction of the wall along the border with Mexico.
A sanctuary city has policies designed to limit its cooperation with federal officials in the enforcement of immigration laws
refusing to honor the arrests of ICE is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law, "said Tom Homan, deputy director of ICE, in a statement.
Homan said that ICE plans to take custody of Garcia Zarate and "eliminate him from the country. "It is not clear if it will be before or after serving his sentence."
Trump called the verdict "shameful," while Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the state of San Francisco was a sanctuary the city was in Much guilty of what happened.
"A shameful verdict in Kate Steinle's case! It's no wonder that the people of our country are so angry about Illegal Immigration, "the president wrote.
The sessions used the verdict to urge local officials to cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies. 19659011] "When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets instead of turning them over to the federal immigration authorities, they put public safety at risk," he said in a statement.
But one of the defendant's attorneys said the debate on immigration did not belong to the case.  "From the first day, this case was used as a means to foment hatred, encourage division and encourage a mbadive deportation program," said public defender Francisco Ugarte. 19659002] "Nothing about the ethnicity of Mr. García Zárate, nothing about his immigration status, nothing about the fact that he was born in Mexico had any relevance as to what his edited on July 1, 2015. "
Deputy Prosecutor Alex Bastian said the prosecutors were disappointed b and the verdict, but he respected the jury's decision.
"I can not stress this enough, this really is about the Steinle family, they have shown incredible resolution throughout this process," he said. "Our hearts are with them"
Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate deliberately shot an unsuspecting crowd on the dock, killing Steinle while walking with his father.
But the defense attorney said the shooting was accidental, and the bullet bounced on the ground and traveled about 80 feet before hitting Steinle.
García Zárate faced an accusation of murder in the second degree, but the juries were allowed to consider first-degree murders and convictions for involuntary manslaughter.  The jury deliberated for six days before issuing its decision.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said Garcia Zarate found the gun at the dock. He said it was wrapped in cloth, and when he unwrapped it, it was accidentally discharged.
But in a police interrogation, García Zarate admitted to firing the gun, saying he was pointing to a seal. He also told the police that he stepped on the gun, which caused his shot.
Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate immediately tried to cover his tracks by throwing the gun into the San Francisco Bay, and then fleeing the scene.
García Zarate was previously known as Juan Francisco López-Sánchez, one of several aliases known to be used. CNN and other media identified him before as Juan Francisco López-Sánchez.
Steinle's death revived the debate on immigration and what role sanctuary cities should play in the implementation of policies.
In 2015, Freya Horne, the San Francisco County Sheriff's chief legal counsel, said García Zarate was fired because there was no legal cause to detain him.
Steinle's family sued last year, alleging that San Francisco and his former sheriff were partly guilty of his death because officers never notified the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service when García Zárate was released from a local jail in April 2015.
City officials have said they are not responsible for the actions of an ex-prisoner. A federal judge dismissed the family's claims.
The Justice Department is considering bringing federal charges against it, according to DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Flores.
The sheriff's department said there is a federal criminal warrant signed by a US district judge. in 2015 by Garcia Zarate. Once he is eligible to be released, US Marshals will be notified, authorities said.
Documents revealed on Friday show that the order was issued in July 2015 after Steinle was killed. An amendment presented on Friday adds other violations, including the conviction for being a criminal with a firearm.