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Illegal immigrant acquitted of murder in politically charged San Francisco trial

Illegal immigrant acquitted of murder in politically charged San Francisco trial

The 2015 murder of the 31-year-old woman sparked a national debate on sanctuary cities because San Francisco law enforcement did not cooperate in the deportation of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was deported five previous times.

A jury has reached a verdict Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, in the trial of Mexican man at center of immigration debate in the San Francisco pier shooting.

Kate Steinle (right) was shot and killed on July 1, 2015, near San Francisco's Pier 14. Before the shooting, officials in San Francisco released Garcia Zarate from custody instead of turning him over to immigration authorities. He has repeatedly warned about violent Latino gangs flourishing in sanctuary cities, and used the crime as part of his efforts to justify a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and win support for a wall he wants built along the US boarder with Mexico.

In September, a federal judge in Chicago ruled the U.S. Justice Department can't withhold millions of dollars in grants supporting public safety from cities that refuse to share with federal officials the immigration status of suspects in custody.

Zarate, a convicted felon who has been deported from the USA five times, was accused of fatally shooting the 32-year-old Steinle in July 2015 while she was walking with her father and a friend in San Francisco.

Sanctuary supporters say enlisting police in deportation actions undermines community trust in local law enforcement, particularly among Latinos.

The sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm in California can range between 16 months and three years in prison. Garcia Zarate admitted to accidentally firing the gun.

MCEVERS: What are some of the elements of this case that led jurors to this verdict?

Trump often cited Steinle's death on a San Francisco pier during his presidential run as an example of the dangers of sanctuary cities.

But he told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and that as very bad as her death was, "nothing you do is going to fix that".

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Steinle "would still be alive if we had a wall", referring to President Trump's call for the construction of a border wall between the USA and Mexico. The bullet, shot from a stolen gun, ricocheted off the concrete before striking Steinle. Freya Horne, chief legal counsel to the county sheriff who runs the jail, told CNN that he was let go because there was no legal cause to detain the suspect. "I have met with numerous great parents who lost their children to sanctuary cities and open borders".

"The verdict that came in today was not the one we were hoping for", said Alex Bastian, a spokesman for the San Francisco prosecutor's office.

President Trump later signed an executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with USA immigration authorities, a policy that a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked Monday.


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