It’s Not Over for Man Cleared of Murder on SF Pier

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Less than a week after his murder acquittal, the undocumented immigrant accused of killing a woman on a San Francisco pier was indicted on federal weapons charges.

Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, 47, a native of Mexico, was charged with two federal crimes Tuesday: being a felon in possession of a firearm and being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm.

The federal indictment comes five days after a state jury found Garcia-Zarate not guilty of murder in the shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier on July 1, 2015.

Steinle’s death set off a national debate over sanctuary city policies, as Garcia-Zarate had been released from a San Francisco jail before the shooting and was not turned over to immigration agents for deportation.

The San Francisco County Superior Court jury on Nov. 30 rejected charges of first- and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a semiautomatic pistol. He was convicted of being a felon in a possession of a firearm, punishable by 16 months to 3 years in prison.

Garcia-Zarate’s public defenders said the shooting was accidental, that the gun went off unintentionally after Garcia-Zarate found it wrapped in a rag beneath a bench. The bullet ricocheted off the concrete walkway before hitting Steinle in the back.

The .40-caliber Sig Sauer handgun had been stolen from an off-duty U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger’s vehicle in San Francisco days before the shooting.

Each count of the new grand jury indictment carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hallie Hoffman and Shiao Lee are prosecuting the case.

Garcia-Zarate is not yet represented by counsel.

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