Conviction of immigrant who killed a Cal Poly grad reversed

Kate Steinle

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Friday overturned a gun conviction against a Mexican national who shot and killed a Cal Poly grad in 2015, because the judge failed to instruct the jury on one of his defenses.

A San Francisco jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 47, of murdering Kate Steinle in 2017, based on an argument that Garcia Zarate accidentally fired the stolen gun. At that time, jurors found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In July 2015, Steinle, 32, was walking with her father along a pier in San Francisco when she was shot in the back and killed. Garcia Zarate, a repeat felon who had been deported five times, then admitted to shooting Steinle.

A few months prior to the shooting, Garcia Zarate was let out of jail and allowed to stay in the United States following an arrest because San Francisco, as a sanctuary city, does not comply with federal immigration detainer orders. Steinle’s death quickly became a national controversy, and President Donald Trump repeatedly spoke out about the issue during his presidential campaign.

“A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration,” Trump tweeted after the 2017 verdict was announced.

Garcia-Zarate, who remains in custody, is now facing federal gun charges.

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