Jury Finds Illegal Immigrant Not Guilty in Killing of Kate Steinle

Jury Finds Illegal Immigrant Not Guilty in Killing of Kate Steinle

A photo of murder victim Kate Steinle, right, is placed on an easel as her father Jim Steinle (second from left) prepares to testify about her murder during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on US immigration enforcement policies, on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 21, 2015. Languishing in seventh behind his Republican competitors at the time, just two weeks into his campaign, Trump used Garcia Zarate's past-he had been deported from the USA five times and had seven felony convictions, including drug charges-as proof of his campaign's anti-immigrant operating thesis.

The killing touched off a fierce national immigration debate, and was used by then-candidate Trump to push for a wall on the Mexican border. "We were the flawless storm for that man".

Trump often cited Steinle's death on a San Francisco pier during his presidential run as an example of the dangers of sanctuary cities.

But he told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and that as bad as her death was, "nothing you do is going to fix that".

Zarate was accused of finding a stolen gun on using it to shoot the 32-year-old woman while she was walking with her father in 2015.

Steinle, her father and a friend were at the pier when a bullet struck Steinle's lower back and tore through her abdominal aorta, authorities said.

FILE - In this July 7, 2015 file photo, 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.

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The case came down to a question of intent.

The city's sanctuary policies were not mentioned in the trial and there were only brief references to the defendant's immigration status.

Defense lawyers said the shooting was an accident that happened when Garcia Zarate, who had a history of drug crimes but no record of violence, found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt or cloth under his seat on the pier just seconds before it discharged in his hands.

Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing remarks that he knows it's hard to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon that fired when he picked it up.

"Her death was preventable - and it should have been prevented", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in July.

Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and had been transferred to San Francisco's jail in March 2015 to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed "Kate's Law", named for Steinle, that would increase penalties for illegal immigrants who return to the United States. But it's unlikely to have enough votes to pass the Senate, which struggled with Kate's Law past year.

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