Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted by a San Francisco jury Thursday night.

Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant who had been deported numerous times and had a rap sheet a mile long (including multiple felony convictions), was accused of fatally shooting Kate Steinle while she was walking along the pier with her father and a friend.

Local news reported:

In a surprising verdict, the jury of six men and six women deliberated and came back with a not guilty verdict, acquitting defendant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate. He was facing second-degree murder charges for killing 32-year-old Pleasanton resident Kate Steinle on July 1, 2015, at Pier 14 in San Francisco.

The jury found Garcia Zarate guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon.

While Garcia Zarate can technically walk out of the courtroom, it’s expected he will be taken into custody by Immigration officials and eventually deported back to his native Mexico.

The Steinle family has been waiting more than two years for this day. Kate Steinle was shot and killed when she was walking with her father and a friend on the pier.

Garcia Zarate, who was homeless at the time, claimed he found the gun wrapped in a piece of cloth under a swivel chair at the pier. He says he picked it up, and it accidentally fired, hitting Steinle in the back. The bullet, the defense claimed, ricocheted and then traveled 78 feet before striking Steinle.

The prosecution has always maintained that Garcia Zarate had the gun all along, aimed it at Steinle and fired. But, because, he had little experience with guns, the bullet ricocheted first, a common mistake made by amateurs.

The gun used to shoot Steinle was stolen in San Francisco from the personal vehicle of a federal park ranger four days earlier. The agent works for the Bureau of Land Management, which is being sued by the Steinle family.

A number of witnesses testified in the trial, including police officers and several people who saw Garcia Zarate at the scene, along with several CSI investigators and forensic experts.

As Professor Jacobson wrote, “San Francisco was a sanctuary city, but not for Kate Steinle.”

For our previous coverage on this case and subsequent complaints and legislation, see here.

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