A stunning decision by a California appeals court has dropped the last of the charges against Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, a seven-time convicted felon and five-time deported illegal immigrant who killed 32-year-old American Kate Steinle.
Steinle’s death in 2015 drew national attention and sparked conversations to address illegal border crossings and the safety of American citizens who live near the border.
Following Steinle’s death, Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate was charged with first- and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a semi-automatic weapon. Fox News reports he was acquitted of these charges in November 2017, leaving only one conviction: one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
On Friday, a jury overturned that decision on the grounds they were unable to determine how long Garcia-Zarate was in possession of the gun.
From the report:
Prosecutors argued that the jury instruction lapse was harmless because Garcia-Zarate admitted firing the gun and experts said he couldn’t do so without pulling the trigger. The court disagreed, saying the jury’s verdict showed they rejected the prosecution theory that the shooting was intentional or even negligent and they had asked the judge to define possession and whether there was a time requirement for possession.
“These questions go to the heart of the momentary possession defense,” Justice Sandra Margulies wrote in the 3-0 decision. “The fact the jury asked whether there was a time requirement for possession suggests jurors were wrestling with how long [the] defendant had the gun.”
Steinle, 32, died July 1, 2015, after she was struck by a bullet while walking with her father and a family friend. Garcia-Zarate claimed he unwittingly picked up the gun, which was wrapped in a T-shirt, and it fired accidentally.
The gun belonged to a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger and had been stolen from his parked car a week earlier.
Here’s even more:
Earlier this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court decision to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Steinle’s parents against San Francisco. The lawsuit maintained that the city’s so-called sanctuary policy and San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi bore responsibility for Steinle’s death.
Three months before the killing, Garcia-Zarate was released from custody after a drug case against him was dropped. The sheriff’s office, which had ended contact between jail employees and immigration officials, ignored a request by federal authorities to hold Garcia-Zarate until they could assume custody and did not inform them that he was being released.
San Francisco and much of California operates as a migrant “sanctuary” where their law enforcement officials refuse to cooperate with federal immigration agencies.
President Trump and many other conservatives have argued against these “sanctuary” policies and have even threatened to cut federal funding unless they cooperate. Cooperation between local law enforcement and federal agencies, conservatives argue, could potentially prevent instances like Kate Steinle’s from ever happening.
Kate Steinle was tragically killed because San Francisco proudly proclaims itself a sanctuary city. How many more innocents will die b4 sanctuary cities stop harboring violent criminals? This defies common sense, public safety, & human decency. #NoJustice https://t.co/rFeungS0wK
— USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli (@USCISCuccinelli) August 31, 2019