In a shocking verdict in a case that was at the heart of the sanctuary city debate, five-time criminal deportee Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of the 2015 murder of 33-year-old Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco.
Matt Gonzalez represented Garcia Zarate, who also goes by Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, and argued in front of the 12 jurors split evenly among men and women that the illegal alien found a gun wrapped in a shirt on the pier and that it accidentally went off after he picked it up. The bullet that killed Steinle ricocheted off the concrete walkway before striking her as she walked the pier with her family. The gun had also been stolen from a Bureau of Land Management ranger a week earlier. Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia argued that Garcia Zarate played “his own secret version of Russian roulette” that night. But in the end, the jurors couldn’t find guilt for any of the charges: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, or involuntary manslaughter.
Most shockingly of all, Garcia Zarate’s criminal background wasn’t considered during the trial and jurors were unaware that he had been deported five times, had been in federal prison for re-entering the country illegally, and had been charged with selling marijuana. Three months before the shooting, Garcia Zarate was released before immigration officials could deport him for the sixth time. He is now a free man — again.
Twitter erupted in shocked reactions to the not guilty verdict: