New Charges for Man Acquitted of SF Pier Shooting - NBC New York
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New Charges for Man Acquitted of SF Pier Shooting

The state conviction carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail

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    Prosecutors argue Jose Ines Garcia Zarate deliberately shot Kate Steinle, while the defense says he was a hapless homeless man who found a stolen gun that went off by accident.

    U.S. authorities on Tuesday charged a Mexican man with new immigration and gun violations less than a week after a San Francisco jury acquitted him of murder for the shooting death of Kate Steinle, a case that helped fuel a fierce national debate on immigration.

    A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate Tuesday on one count each of felon in possession of a firearm and of "being an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States'' in possession of a gun and ammunition, according to the indictment.

    A San Francisco jury last week convicted him of a state charge of felony in possession of a firearm after acquitting him of murder and assault for the July 1, 2015 shooting.

    The state conviction carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail. He has been in jail since the day of the shooting. His public defender Matt Gonzalez said Garcia Zarate will ask a judge to toss out the state conviction. Garcia Zarate is to be sentenced in state court Dec. 14.

    Kate Steinle Murder Trial: Video Appears to Show Moment of San Francisco Pier Shooting

    [NATL-BAY ML 6P BROCK] Kate Steinle Murder Trial: Video Appears to Show Moment of San Francisco Pier Shooting

    Surveillance video footage shown in court Wednesday shows the man charged in the fatal shooting of Kate Steinle at San Francisco's Pier 14 throw something in the water and then leave the scene immediately after she is struck, according to prosecutors. 

    Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, is charged with second-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon in the July 1, 2015, shooting.

    Garcia Zarate had been deported five times and was released from jail before the shooting. The case has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate.

    --Sam Brock reports for NBC Bay Area.

    (Published Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017)

    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon on Tuesday defended his office's handling of the case. He said he still believed Garcia Zarate should have been convicted of Steinle's murder.

    Legal experts have said prosecutors overreached by asking for a first-degree murder conviction because the fatal shot ricocheted off the ground, supporting Garcia Zarate's defense that the shooting was an accident. Jurors could also have convicted Garcia Zarate of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter but chose not to.

    Jurors left court last week without speaking publicly about their verdict and Gascon said they have not spoken with prosecutors either.

    Garcia Zarate said he found a gun under a chair on a San Francisco pier. He said it fired accidentally when he picked it up.

    President Donald Trump frequently brought up the case last year during his presidential campaign to criticize efforts in the U.S. to combat illegal immigration.

    Garcia Zarate had been deported five times before the shooting. The San Francisco sheriff's department also released him from jail several weeks before the shooting despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deportation.

    San Francisco is a so-called sanctuary city and local officials are limited in the cooperation they can give to federal deportation efforts.

    President Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from cities with similar policies.

    Gascon on Tuesday called Trump a "madman" for a series of tweets deriding the jury's verdict.