US prosecutors seek arrest of illegal immigrant acquitted of Kate Steinle murder

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Friday sought to arrest an illegal immigrant acquitted of murdering a San Francisco woman in a case raised during the 2016 presidential campaign, saying his conviction on a lesser weapons charge violated the terms of his supervised release.

A San Francisco Superior Court jury on Thursday found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 45, not guilty of murder and manslaughter charges in connection with the July 1, 2015, death of Kate Steinle. Jurors found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

President Donald Trump, who had used the Steinle case as a rallying cry against the pro-immigration policies of so-called sanctuary cities during his successful run for the presidency, called the verdict "disgraceful" on Twitter.

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Kate Steinle deadly shooting case
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Kate Steinle deadly shooting case
Jim Steinle (L), father of murder victim Kathryn Steinle (in photo, R), allegedly at the hands of an undocumented immigrant, testifies about his daughter's murder during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on U.S. immigration enforcement policies, on Capitol Hill in Washington July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez is led into the Hall of Justice for his arraignment in San Francisco, California July 7, 2015. Francisco Sanchez, 45, was charged with murder on Monday for last week's shooting of Kathryn Steinle, 32. The case drew national attention after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used the killing to decry U.S.-Mexico border security. REUTERS/POOL/Michael Macor
A Coast Guard vessel passes a makeshift memorial for shooting victim Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco, California July 6, 2015. Steinle, 32, was fatally shot as she walked with her father along the popular Embarcadero pier on July 1, 2015 in what San Francisco police described as an apparent random attack. The random fatal shooting, allegedly by an immigrant, proves the United States must tighten its borders, according to a statement on Friday by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is facing heavy criticism for his comments about Mexicans. REUTERS/Noah Berger
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Liz Sullivan (C) mother of Kathryn 'Kate' Steinle who was killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, is comforted while her son Brad Steinle (R) sits nearby during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from family members who have had loved ones killed by illegal immigrants. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: A large photo of Kathryn 'Kate' Steinle who was killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, is shown while her dad Jim Steinle testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from family members who have had loved ones killed by illegal immigrants. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, arrested in connection with the July 1, 2015, shooting of Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco, California, U.S. is seen in an undated photo released by the San Francisco Police Department. Courtesy San Francisco Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Jim Steinle, father of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, speaks during a news conference on September 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, have filed claims against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the Bureau of Land Management and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their role in their daughter's death. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Brad Steinle, (L) brother of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, is comforted by his father Jim Steinle (R) as he speaks during a news conference on September 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, have filed claims against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the Bureau of Land Management and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their role in their daughter's death. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Liz Sullivan (C) mother of Kathryn 'Kate' Steinle who was killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, is comforted while her son Brad Steinle (R) sits nearby during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from family members who have had loved ones killed by illegal immigrants. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 21: Jim Steinle, father of Kathryn 'Kate' Steinle who was killed by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco, arrives to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from family members who have had loved ones killed by illegal immigrants. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Frank Pitre, attorney for the family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, speaks during a news conference on September 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, have filed claims against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the Bureau of Land Management and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their role in their daughter's death. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
JUST IN: Jury finds Mexican man not guilty of murder in 2015 San Francisco pier shooting death of Kate Steinle; fou… https://t.co/p1uxsCj6VM
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, the parents of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, speak during a news conference on September 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, have filed claims against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the Bureau of Land Management and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their role in their daughter's death. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: (R-L) Brad Steinle, Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, the family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, look on during a news conference on September 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, have filed claims against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the Bureau of Land Management and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their role in their daughter's death. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: (L-R) Brad Steinle, Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, the family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, look on during a news conference on September 1, 2015 in San Francisco, California. The family of Kate Steinle who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, have filed claims against San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the Bureau of Land Management and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for their role in their daughter's death. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Steve, who declined to give a last name, leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial for shooting victim Kathryn Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco, California July 6, 2015. Steinle, 32, was fatally shot as she walked with her father along the popular Embarcadero pier on July 1, 2015 in what San Francisco police described as an apparent random attack. The random fatal shooting, allegedly by an immigrant, proves the United States must tighten its borders, according to a statement on Friday by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is facing heavy criticism for his comments about Mexicans. REUTERS/Noah Berger
San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi (L) leads Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez into the Hall of Justice for his arraignment in San Francisco, California July 7, 2015. Francisco Sanchez, 45, was charged with murder on Monday for last week's shooting of Kathryn Steinle, 32. The case drew national attention after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used the killing to decry U.S.-Mexico border security. REUTERS/POOL/Michael Macor
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Sanctuary cities such as San Francisco limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate, who had been deported to Mexico five times, had been released from a San Francisco jail despite a request by immigration authorities that he be detained and turned over to them.

In seeking an arrest warrant on Friday, federal prosecutors said that Garcia Zarate's conviction on the weapons charge violated the conditions of his supervised release from federal custody in March 2015 after nearly four years in prison, just months before Steinle's killing.

The arrest warrant was dated 2015, but was amended and unsealed following the verdicts.

Garcia Zarate also faces sentencing in San Francisco Superior Court on the weapons charge, and it was not clear which jurisdiction would take the lead.

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Reaction to verdict in Kate Steinle case
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Reaction to verdict in Kate Steinle case
A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.
I am disappointed and angry at the not guilty verdict for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal alien who had several… https://t.co/soX05gmTnj
Sessions' statement on Steinle verdict: "I urge the leaders of the nation’s communities to reflect on the outcome o… https://t.co/tmvw4xKXJt
Such an insane recent news cycle, and now this?? Outrageous “not guilty” verdict in murder case of Kate Steinle. Th… https://t.co/0qFmqbc96Q
Jury convinced that illegal alien killed Kate Steinle accidentally. She would still be alive if we had a wall.
If this worthless Congress doesn’t pass #KatesLaw now, there is no hope for this nation. https://t.co/vFa1rayYFP
I wonder how the jurors in the Kate Steinle trial will feel when they lay down to go to sleep tonight knowing they… https://t.co/Yb51vKQrJw
A San Francisco jury finds an illegal alien not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle. In California - there is no justi… https://t.co/kg72rDByxA
Prayers for the Steinle family. Feds should immediately charge the thug with a variety of immigration crimes. What’s happening to America?
California's dangerous sanctuary cities policy cost #KateSteinle her life & gave her no justice. Thankful to join… https://t.co/g3Lqfk4xLP
Very upsetting #KateSteinle verdict. This is a sad day for our country. Elected officials in Sanctuary Cities and t… https://t.co/g42CTrK9d4
Kate Steinle’s family has suffered an agonizing loss and now have been denied justice for the man who shot and killed her. 1/2
If our immigration laws were enforced, Kate would be alive today. I defy anyone to defend that murderer’s right to… https://t.co/S1H1ng0Ncx
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The jurors who acquitted Garcia Zarate, who previously was known as Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, did not speak to reporters following their verdict.

They apparently agreed with defense attorneys who said during the trial that Garcia Zarate found the gun and it accidentally discharged, with the bullet ricocheting off the ground at a pier frequented by tourists before striking Steinle.

Prosecutors had argued Garcia Zarate intentionally fired the gun.

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed "Kate’s Law," which would increase penalties for illegal immigrants who return to the United States. The bill has not passed the U.S. Senate.

Since taking office as president in January, Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have sought to cut federal funding for sanctuary cities but have suffered setbacks in court.

In a statement after the verdict, Sessions said San Francisco officials’ "decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle."

 

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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