The homeless Mexican immigrant who was pilloried by then-candidate Donald Trump after he was accused of fatally shooting a woman on a San Francisco pier was found not guilty of murder on Thursday. Garcia Zarate was convicted of a lesser charge of being a felon in possession of a gun.
After he was elected president, Trump signed an executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with USA immigration authorities, a policy that a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked Monday. Proceedings lasted about one month.
Garcia Zarate is subject to immediate deportation.
He had been deported five times before.
Garcia Zarate said he found the stolen gun wrapped in a shirt under a chair on a pedestrian pier and that the weapon accidentally fired when he picked it up.
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. "He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle", she said.
The Bureau of Land Management previously said that the gun belonged to one of its enforcement rangers and was stolen from a federal agent's vehicle.
A large photo of Kate Steinle is shown while her dad Jim Steinle testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC.
That charge was dismissed by San Francisco prosecutors after he arrived.
The sheriff's department released him a few days later after prosecutors dropped the marijuana charge, despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deportation. Since taking office, Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from places with similar sanctuary city laws. San Francisco still won't honor a federal detainer request unless the detainee has committed a violent or serious felony in the past seven years.
Steinle was walking on Pier 14 with her father and a family friend around 6:30 p.m. when she was struck in the back by a single bullet that had ricocheted off the pier before it hit her.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, arrested in connection with the July 1, 2015, shooting of Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco is led into the Hall of Justice for his arraignment in San Francisco, California, U.S. on July 7, 2015.
Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and had been transferred to San Francisco's jail in March 2015 to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana. The administration has appealed. "It's disconcerting", Brad Steinle told CNN's Anderson Cooper. "She would still be alive today if her killer had been imprisoned or deported, as he should have been".