Federal charges levied against undocumented immigrant found not guilty in murder of Kate Steinle

A federal grand jury issued an indictment on Tuesday against Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, the undocumented immigrant who was acquitted on state charges of murder and manslaughter last week in the shooting of Kate Steinle.

The Mexican national will now face new immigration and gun charges as announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Attorney for the Northern District of California Brian Stretch and ATF Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder.

Detailed in a press release issued by the Department of Justice’s Northern District of California, the indictment against Garcia Zarate is for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and for being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. If convicted of the charges, the 47-year-old Garcia Zarate faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Michael macor/San Francisco Chronicle/AP
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, right, is led into the courtroom by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, left, and Assistant District Attorney Diana Garciaor, center, for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco on July 7, 2015.

Officials say that the indictment “merely alleges that a crime has been committed and that Zarate is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

This case is the result of an investigation being led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Last Thursday, Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter in the homicide case of Steinle. He was found guilty of a lesser charge of gun possession. The shooting of the 32-year-old Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015 ignited a fierce immigration debate that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump seized on as part of his campaign’s proposed crackdown on illegal immigrants and U.S. sanctuary cities.

Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle/AP
Flowers and a portrait of Kate Steinle are displayed at a memorial site on Pier 14 on July 17, 2015, in San Francisco, Calif.

Garcia Zarate admitted to shooting Steinle, but said he had picked up a gun from under a bench on the pier and it went off accidentally. Steinle was struck in the back and later died at the hospital. Prosecutors argued unsuccessfully that Garcia Zarate handled the weapon carelessly, leading to the shooting.

The not-guilty verdict in the controversial case came as a surprise to the victim’s family and many Americans.

Steinle’s family told The…

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