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Jose Garcia-Zarate, the illegal immigrant who was acquitted in the death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in December, is accusing the federal government of “vindictive prosecution and collusion” in its decision to pursue further charges against him.
Garcia-Zarate was acquitted in November of first and second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the July 2015 shooting death of Steinle at the San Francisco pier. The case became a political lightning rod in the national debate over sanctuary city laws and illegal immigration.
Zarate had been released from a San Francisco jail a few months before the shooting, despite a request by immigration authorities to detain him for deportation – leading to scrutiny and criticism of the city’s “sanctuary city” laws.
Steinle was walking with her father on Pier 14 in San Francisco in July 2015 when she was shot. Garcia-Zarate’s legal team argued that he found the stolen weapon on the pier, and it fired accidentally. The bullet bounced off the pier before hitting Steinle. Garcia-Zarate was found guilty of possessing a firearm by a felon.