An illegal immigrant, Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, was sentenced to the seven years he has already spent behind bars, after pleading guilty to federal weapons charges earlier this year, as he was acquitted of murder in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle. This means he is likely to spend no further time in jail, but faces other charges that could have a different result.
Watch him be found not guilty as a reminder:
To face charges for failing to report his location to immigration officials in a separate case, the 51-year-old Mexican national will now be transported to Texas.
In July 2015, Kathryn “Kate” Steinle, 32, was struck in the back by a bullet and killed, while walking with her father and a family friend on a San Francisco pier.
Garcia-Zarate acknowledged holding the gun that killed Steinle but said it accidentally fired when he picked it up from underneath a bench. About a week before the shooting, the gun had been stolen from a Bureau of Land Management ranger’s car.
Garcia-Zarate had been deported from the U.S. five times, said report.
During the 2016 presidential election, Steinle’s death ignited a nationwide debate over immigration, with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and other Republican lawmakers blaming the incident on San Francisco’s status as a sanctuary city.
He was acquitted of murder by a San Francisco Superior Court jury in 2017, but he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a weapon. In 2019, the conviction on the state weapons charge was overturned on appeal.
Amid concerns about Garcia-Zarate’s ability to stand trial, the federal weapons charges had been pending for five years.
U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria said that two doctors have diagnosed him with schizophrenia, but the Bureau of Prisons “restored the defendant to competency” last June.
Garcia-Zarate admitted that he was on the San Francisco pier on July 1, 2015, as part of the guilty plea to federal weapons charges. and that he was in possession of a pistol loaded with eight rounds.
“If you return to this country again and you are back in front of me, I will not spare you. Let this be your last warning: do not return to this country,” said Judge Chhabria at the hearing.
To a request for comment by a reporter, Garcia-Zarate’s attorney did not immediately respond.
Law and Crime added the following input on the situation: “Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, reportedly 51, admitted in federal court on Monday to being a felon in possession of a firearm and to being an alien unlawfully present in the United States in possession of a firearm, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The guilty plea flowed from a Dec. 5, 2017 federal indictment which surrounded the July 1, 2015 shooting death of Kathryn “Kate” Steinle.
Garcia-Zarate shot Steinle in the back with a “loaded semi-automatic pistol,” the DOJ said. “Garcia-Zarate possessed and fired a loaded semi-automatic pistol. The bullet hit Kathryn Steinle in her back, killing her. At the time of the shooting, Garcia-Zarate was a convicted felon and illegally in the United States, having previously been deported. He was also on federal supervised release from a 2011 Texas conviction.“