Federal officials file new charges against man acquitted in Kate Steinle case


The new charges come less than a week after a San Francisco jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of homicide for the shooting death of Kate Steinle, a case that helped fuel a fierce national debate on immigration.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California announced an indictment of Garcia Zarate Tuesday evening, charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and being an immigrant in the country illegally in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

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

The case became a flashpoint in arguments on illegal immigration when it was learned that Zarate had been released from jail prior to the shooting under a "sanctuary city" policy, instead of being handed over to immigration authorities for deportation.

Garcia Zarate faced a charge of second-degree murder, but jurors were allowed to consider first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter convictions.

Zarate had been charged in Steinle's killing after she was fatally wounded in 2015 while walking on the San Francisco waterfront.

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The allegations mirror the lower charge Garcia Zarate was convicted of in state court. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said the jury's decision was "hard to receive".

The defense in the case painted the shooting as a freak accident, arguing that the gun accidentally discharged and presenting evidence that the bullet ricocheted 78 feet across the concrete pier before hitting Steinle. The Mexican national, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, will face new immigration and gun charges.

Garcia Zarate has been deported and had returned to the United States five times.

President Trump had used Steinle's death to push for stricter immigration laws during his presidential campaign, and decried the verdict in the trial as "disgraceful".

Gascón called out Trump, saying that "we shouldn't allow a madman that is tweeting dictate everything we do" when talking about the influence politics has had on the Steinle trial.