Mexican acquitted in San Francisco pier shooting faces new gun, immigration charges

Matt Gonzalez and press

The illegal immigrant who was acquitted last week in the shooting death Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015 was indicted Tuesday on federal charges, the Justice Department said.

Garcia-Zarate did not deny shooting Steinle and said it was an accident.

He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each charge, according to the US attorney's announcement.

Garcia Zarate is scheduled to be sentenced for his conviction in San Francisco next week. The case has drawn national attention since then-presidential candidate Donald Trump seized on Garcia Zarate's history of deportations and illegal re-entry in the U.S.to criticize so-called sanctuary cities like San Francisco.

The federal charges were announced through a news release from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, U.S. Attorney from the Northern District of California Brian Stretch and Jill Snyder, a special agent in charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The jury returned only a guilty verdict on Zarate's illegal possession of a firearm.

George Gascón, district attorney for the city and county of San Francisco, would not comment on the developments but talked to reporters about the recent trial. The indictment charges Garcia Zarate, 47, with handling a semi-automaic pistol and multiple rounds of ammunition on July 1, 2015, the day Steinle was shot and killed on San Francisco's Pier 14. President Trump called the verdict "a total miscarriage of justice".

Zarate was acquitted last week in Steinle's death.

Months before Kate Steinle's murder, San Francisco authorities released Jose Zarate from custody, ignoring a request from federal authorities to turn him over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Authorities said the gun Garcia Zarate used was stolen from the auto of an off-duty agent for the Bureau of Land Management.

The jury deliberated for six days before issuing its decision. Her death has now become a rallying cry for more stringent immigration laws, including a crackdown on "sanctuary cities" and the creation of a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

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