Update: It appears an earlier Fox News report that Zarate was given probation on the gun charge was not correct. He was sentenced to time served, with parole lasting another 48 months. We have corrected our story.
Original Article: Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the illegal immigrant who was acquitted in the murder of Kate Steinle, will serve no additional jail time on the gun charge he was found guilty on, according to Fox News. The judge in the case has sentenced him today to time served.
Zarate will now be turned over to federal authorities to face federal gun charges. He cannot be retried for murder. He was acquitted after claiming that the shooting was accidental.
A homeless immigrant acquitted of killing Kate Steinle on San Francisco’s Pier 14, but found guilty on a lesser gun charge, was sentenced to time already served Friday, clearing the way for him to face two pending federal firearm charges.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate will be turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service. Less than a week after his Nov. 30 acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges, Garcia Zarate was indicted by a federal grand jury for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and being an undocumented immigrant in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in federal prison before being deported to his native Mexico. Well-known San Francisco attorney J. Tony Serra will represent Garcia Zarate on the federal gun charges.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Samuel Feng on Friday morning also denied a motion for a new trial filed in December by Garcia Zarate’s attorney, public defender Matt Gonzalez.
Gonzalez argued, among other things, that the jury was not properly instructed that “momentary” possession of a firearm was not necessarily a crime.
Garcia Zarate was arrested shortly after Steinle was shot dead as she walked along the pier with her father on July 1, 2015. His time in jail gave him enough credits to cover Friday’s sentence in state court.
During the sensational six-week trial, Gonzalez argued that Steinle’s killing was unintentional. Garcia Zarate found the gun wrapped in a cloth under a bench on Pier 14 and it went off accidentally, Gonzalez said.
Evidence presented at trial showed the bullet had ricocheted off the pier 12 to 15 feet in front of Garcia Zarate before traveling 78 more feet and hitting Steinle in the heart.
The pistol had been stolen four days earlier from a federal agent’s car along the Embarcadero.
Before Steinle’s death, Garcia Zarate was set to be deported for a sixth time after being released from federal prison in Southern California on a conviction of felony re-entry into the country.
But instead of being taken back to his home country of Mexico, he was brought to San Francisco to face a warrant for possession of marijuana from 1995. The charge was swiftly dismissed and Garcia Zarate was released from San Francisco Jail under the city’s sanctuary policy in April 2015.
The case drew national attention and debate over San Francisco’s sanctuary city policy, including from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.