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Undocumented immigrant acquitted in shooting that sparked sanctuary-city debate

Undocumented immigrant acquitted in shooting that sparked sanctuary-city debate

A San Francisco jury found an undocumented immigrant not guilty of murder Thursday in a case that sparked national debate about sanctuary cities and us immigration policy.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate has some prior felony convictions mostly for illegal re-entry into the US and then additionally some - what would today be considered low-level drug crimes, at least in San Francisco, Calif.

Jim Steinle, who was walking with his 32-year-old daughter when she was killed, echoed Trump's sentiments, telling the San Francisco Chronicle the family was saddened and shocked by the verdict. He has repeatedly warned about violent Latino gangs flourishing in sanctuary cities, and used the crime as part of his efforts to justify a crackdown on undocumented immigrants and win support for a wall he wants built along the USA boarder with Mexico. Such cities often do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

"While the State of California sought a murder charge for the man who caused Ms. Steinle's death - a man who would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city simply honored an ICE detainer - the people ultimately convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm", Sessions said.

"Countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders and enforce our laws like they have to be enforced", Trump said during a August 2016 campaign speech in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jurors did find Zarate guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a charge that carries a sentence of 16 months to 3 years.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Steinle "would still be alive if we had a wall", referring to President Trump's call for the construction of a border wall between the USA and Mexico.

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Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing remarks that he knows it's hard to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon that fired when he picked it up.

Several months after Steinle's death, Trump claimed that she had been shot five times.

MCEVERS: What are some of the elements of this case that led jurors to this verdict?

But he told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and as bad as her death was, "nothing you do is going to fix that". The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway before it struck Steinle. The defense argued that the shooting was unintentional, that the defendant found the gun wrapped in a cloth under his seat at the pier and that it accidentally discharged. "I have met with numerous great parents who lost their children to sanctuary cities and open borders".

A spokeswoman for San Francisco Superior Court could not immediately be reached for comment on the verdict.

The San Francisco sheriff's department released Zarate from jail even though federal immigration authorities had requested that he be handed over for deportation.


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