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Trump Calls Acquittal in Sanctuary City Murder `Disgraceful'

Trump Calls Acquittal in Sanctuary City Murder `Disgraceful'

When a bullet from a gun in the hands of Jose Garcia-Zarate, a non-citizen in the US who had been arrested and deported multiple times, ricocheted off the ground and killed sightseer Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015, it set off a national debate, which then-candidate Donald Trump inflamed, over the merits or demerits of certain cities' policies of not actively enforcing federal USA immigration law or cooperating in handing over illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

Garcia Zarate was charged with murder, assault with a deadly weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the death of Steinle, a 32-year-old Pleasanton native and San Francisco resident, on July 1, 2015.

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. And probably the strongest one for the defense that contributed most to the jury's verdict in this case is the fact that it was a ricochet shot that killed Kathryn Steinle.

Garcia Zarate's lawyer, Matt Gonzalez, had argued that the defendant wasn't criminally responsible because he found the.40-caliber Sig Sauer and wasn't aware it was a gun when it accidentally went off.

While the jurors didn't hear evidence regarding Zarate's immigration status, the shooting came roughly three months after a San Francisco jail released him despite federal immigration authorities' request he remain detained before his deportation. Such cities often do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

He had been deported from the United States five times prior to Steinle's death.

The sheriff's department released him a few days later after the district attorney dropped the marijuana charge, despite a USA request to detain him for deportation.

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That charge was dismissed by San Francisco prosecutors after he arrived.

Steinle's story has been prominent in Republicans' push for immigration reform - including a bill passed by the House this summer titled "Kate's Law", which creates harsher punishments for illegal re-entry into the US.

Prosecutors said the verdict was not what they had hoped for, but they respect the decision.

Trump often cited Steinle's death on a San Francisco pier during his presidential run as an example of the dangers of sanctuary cities.

A Mexican national, Zarate was a seven-time convicted felon who had been deported from the USA five times before the shooting. Steinle, a medical equipment saleswoman, was out for a July afternoon walk with her dad on San Francisco's Pier 14 when she was struck in the back by a single bullet.

Steinle's death became a rallying cry for Trump and others, who have invoked the case in decrying sanctuary cities and promoting the construction of the border wall. But it's unlikely to have enough votes to pass the Senate, which struggled with Kate's Law past year.

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