Immigrant Acquitted of Murder Sues Feds for Documents

(CN) – Lawyers for Jose Garcia-Zarate, the homeless undocumented immigrant acquitted last year of murdering Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier, filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking the U.S. government to hand over its communications with local law enforcement agencies.

Garcia-Zarate’s attorneys claim that federal agencies colluded with the San Francisco police, district attorney’s office and sheriff’s office, according to the motion filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.

J. Tony Serra, one of Garcia-Zarate’s attorneys, wrote that the national attention of the case turned his client into a focus of anti-immigration politicians.

“This case was highly publicized, both locally and nationally,” Serra wrote in the motion. “Almost immediately after the death of Ms. Steinle, then presidential candidate Donald Trump began to use Mr. Garcia-Zarate as the symbol of the dangers of illegal immigrants and the need for a wall between the United States and Mexico.”

Although Garcia-Zarate was cleared of the murder of Steinle, five days after his acquittal, he was charged with federal counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and being an illegal immigrant in possession of a firearm. He was convicted on a state charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a three-year sentence which he was released for time served.

Serra referenced the appearance of Justice Department Spokeswoman Sarah Flores, who appeared on the Fox and Friends show on the Fox News channel the day after Garcia-Zarate was acquitted.

“On the show, she was told that people were disappointed in the previous day’s verdict and asked what the Department of Justice was considering,” Serra wrote. “Ms. Flores stated, ‘Absolutely. We are looking at pursuing federal charges in this case and I think it’s important to reassure everyone who is concerned about this that we will prosecute this to the fullest extent available in the law.’”

According to the motion, the federal charges violate due process and double jeopardy as Garcia-Zarate was already tried for being a felon possessing a firearm in state court. Serra claims that the federal charges are based on vindictiveness and not valid.

In addition to Serra, Garcia-Zarate is also represented by Maria Belyi.



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