Jury Finds Illegal Immigrant Not Guilty in Killing of Kate Steinle

An illegal immigrant accused of shooting Kate Steinle to death on pier in the sanctuary city of San Francisco is found not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

The six-man, six-woman jury reached the verdict on the sixth day of deliberations following a four-week trial.

At trial, Zarate admitted to firing the shot that killed Steinle, 32, but contended that he had picked up a gun underneath a bench on the San Francisco pier and accidentally fired it July 1, 2015.

Jurors did find him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, meaning he knowingly had a firearm but there was no intent for him to hurt or shoot anyone. San Francisco's "sanctuary city" law bars local officials from cooperating with federal attempts to deport those in the country illegally, and the city had released Garcia Zarate from custody despite a federal detention request. Such cities often do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

Kate Steinle

Zarate had been deported from the United States five times before Steinle was shot and killed.

The sheriff's department released him a few days later after the district attorney dropped the marijuana charge, despite a US request to detain him for deportation.

"For Donald Trump, we were just what he needed-beautiful girl, San Francisco, illegal immigrant, arrested a million times, a violent crime and yadda, yadda, yadda", Steinle's mother, Liz Sullivan, told the San Francisco Chronicle months after her daughter's death.

"I urge the leaders of the nation's communities to reflect on the outcome of this case and consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement officers", Sessions said.

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The case touched off a national debate about sanctuary cities because of the circumstances of Zarate's release from a San Francisco jail several months before Steinle's killing.

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

Steinle, her father and a friend were at the pier when a bullet struck Steinle's lower back and tore through her abdominal aorta, authorities said.

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

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"While the State of California sought a murder charge for the man who caused Ms. Steinle's death-a man who would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city simply honored an ICE detainer-the people ultimately convicted him of felon in possession of a firearm". A federal judge dismissed the family's claims against San Francisco and former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi earlier this year.

"Her death was preventable - and it should have been prevented", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in July. "This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it. That won't happen if I become President".

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