New federal charges for man acquitted in Steinle killing

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Garcia Zarate, now in the San Francisco County Jail, was found not guilty last week of all homicide charges in the July 2015 death of Kate Steinle.

"A federal grand jury indicted Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate today for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and for being an illegally-present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition", the Department of Justice announced.

Last week, a San Francisco jury acquitted Zarate of murder and manslaughter in the 2015 shooting death of Steinle.

Garcia Zarate, a Mexican citizen who has previous convictions for nonviolent drug charges and returning to the country after deportation, had been released from San Francisco jail a few months before the shooting without notification to federal authorities.

Legal experts have said prosecutors overreached by asking for a first-degree murder conviction because the fatal shot ricocheted off the ground, supporting Garcia Zarate's defense that the shooting was an accident.

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Garcia Zarate, who had served a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry to the United States, was transferred in March of 2015 to San Francisco's jail to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.

The new charges appear to signal that federal authorities hope to try, convict and incarcerate the five-time deportee before he is ultimately expelled from the U.S. They believe the gun possession conviction seemed at odds with the acquittals, given that those verdicts aligned with the defense contention that Garcia Zarate found the gun by happenstance at the pier where the shooting occurred. Garcia Zarate is to be sentenced in state court December 14.

Jurors could also have convicted Garcia Zarate of second-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter but chose not to.

Kate Steinle was gunned down by an illegal alien who told authorities he specifically went to San Francisco because it was a sanctuary city. "This tragedy could have been prevented if San Francisco had turned the alien over to ICE, as we requested, instead of releasing him back onto the streets".

The verdict created a furor nationally, particularly among those on the right pursuing an anti-immigration agenda, and prompted a #boycottSF campaign online, as well as several angry tweets from President Donald Trump.

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