SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF & AP) — Jurors Thursday afternoon acquitted the illegal immigrant accused of killing Kate Steinle as she walked with her father on a crowded San Francisco pier of all charges except for felony possession of a firearm.
A spokesperson for the Superior Court of California made the announcement that the jury had reached a verdict shortly after 3 p.m. Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the shocking verdict was announced that Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of all charges except for the gun possession charge.
Jurors have been deliberating on the case since Tuesday, November 21, after prosecutors and defense attorneys finished their arguments whether Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident or a calculated murderer intent on playing a sick game
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez spoke after the verdict was read, first taking a moment to offer condolences to the Steinle family.
“I hope that they do not interpret this verdict as diminishing in any way the awful tragedy that occured,” said Gonzalez.
Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend in July 2015 when she was shot, collapsing into her father’s arms. Garcia Zarate had been released from the San Francisco jail about three months before the shooting, despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for deportation.
He had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation.
Steinle’s death put San Francisco and its “sanctuary city” policy in the spotlight, as Democrats and Republicans lashed out at city officials for refusing to cooperate with federal deportation efforts.