The illegal immigrant who killed Kate Steinle in 2015 and was found last week not guilty of murder or manslaughter was indicted on a new set of charges Tuesday.
Mexican-born Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported from the U.S. five times and convicted of several felonies, was acquitted Thursday of first- and second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter charges. But Garcia Zarate wasn’t quite off the hook.
“A federal grand jury indicted Jose Inez Garcia Zarate today for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and for being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
The statement noted that Garcia Zarate is being held in custody. If convicted on either charge, he could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced last week that it planned to take Garcia Zarate into custody and ultimately deport him from the U.S. for the sixth time.
“San Francisco’s policy of refusing to honor ICE detainers is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law.”
“It is unconscionable that politicians across this country continue to endanger the lives of Americans with sanctuary policies while ignoring the harm inflicted on their constituents,” ICE acting Director Tom Homan said in a statement Thursday after the verdict. “Following the conclusion of this case, ICE will work to take custody of Mr. Garcia Zarate and ultimately remove him from the country.”
When Garcia Zarate shot and killed the 32-year-old Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015, it helped propel the issue of sanctuary cities to the forefront of national discourse. President Donald Trump, in particular, used the controversy as a focal point for his campaign platform advocating for immigration enforcement, local cooperation with federal immigration officials, and border security.
“A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!”
Garcia Zarate’s acquittal last week sparked outrage among immigration enforcement advocates and Republicans alike.
“San Francisco’s policy of refusing to honor ICE detainers is a blatant threat to public safety and undermines the rule of law,” Homan said. “This tragedy could have been prevented if San Francisco had simply turned the alien over to ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets.”