DOJ May Consider Federal Charges Against Illegal Immigrant in Kate Steinle Murder Case

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Dec 01, 2017 8:00 AM
DOJ May Consider Federal Charges Against Illegal Immigrant in Kate Steinle Murder Case

After a California jury found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty in the murder of Kate Steinle, the Depart of Justice is weighing federal charges against the illegal immigrant, Fox News reports.

Zarate was found not guilty of first-degree murder, second degree murder, or manslaughter; he was only convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. 

While Zarate did not deny killing Steinle, he said the shooting was an accident.  

U.S. immigration officials announced after Thursday’s verdict that they would deport the Mexican national, who had already been deported five times prior to shooting Steinle. Before the shooting, Zarate, also known as Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, was in jail on a drug charge but was released despite a detainer on him from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. San Francisco, where the shooting took place, is a sanctuary city.

The undocumented felon could spend three years in prison for the firearm charge but has already been behind bars for over two years as the case has made its way through court.

The consideration of federal charges comes as President Trump calls the verdict “disgraceful” and uses the case to rally support for a border wall.

“The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!” he tweeted Friday. (Fox News)

In addition to Trump’s comments on the murder trial, Attorney General Jeff Sessions also issued a statement about the verdict.

“When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public’s safety at risk. San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle,” he said. “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 felon in possession of a firearm.”

Sessions did not discuss bringing any more charges against Zarate in his statement, only that the DOJ “will continue to ensure that all jurisdictions place the safety and security of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens.”

Former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said what actions Sessions takes now will be a “litmus test” for the attorney general.