SAN FRANCISCO – A California federal judge on Monday sentenced the Mexican man, who was acquitted of murder in the 2015 shooting of a woman on a San Francisco pier, to the seven years he has already served in prison – and with it the case that Has sparked a national firestorm, legally closed immigration, crime and cities of refuge.
Jose Inez Garcia Zarate was in the US illegally when Kate Steinle, 32, was fatally shot at a crowded Pier 14 where she was walking with her father and a family friend. He faces deportation, and US District Judge Vince Chhabria told the court he should never return to the United States
The shooting shocked a country already divided over immigration and fueled Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign. Trump called for a crackdown on illegal immigration and the cities and states of refuge — including San Francisco and California — that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.
Garcia Zarate admitted firing the gun on July 4, 2015 but said he found it under a bench and didn’t know what it was when he picked it up because it was wrapped in a T-shirt. The gun was accidentally fired after he picked it up, he said. Officials said the bullet ricocheted off the ground and struck Steinle.
He was acquitted of the murder charge by a San Francisco jury in 2017, but faced a firearms charge in federal court. March, He pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and a person illegally in possession of a firearm.
“If you come back to this country and stand before me again, I will not spare you. Let this be your final warning: do not return to this country,” Chhabria said before condemning Garcia Zarate for the time he has already served.
Chhabria also delivered a sharp rebuke to the mental treatment Garcia Zarate received while in detention for his schizophrenia, which the judge described as virtually non-existent.
Garcia Zarate is sent to Texas, where he faces a federal judge for failing to report his whereabouts when he was released from a San Francisco prison shortly before the shooting. He had been deported five times and was about to be deported again from the United States when he shot Steinle.
The maximum sentence for the firearms charge was 10 years. Prosecutors agreed to serve the sentence plus three years of probation. Garcia Zarate’s attorneys wanted a shorter sentence so that he could claim the remaining time if the Texas judge imposed an additional prison sentence.
The pistol belonged to a ranger with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, who reported that it was stolen from his parked car a week before Steinle died.
Before the murder, Garcia Zarate had recently been serving a sentence for illegally re-entering the US when he was transferred to San Francisco to face a 20-year-old marijuana charge.
Prosecutors dismissed the case, but the San Francisco sheriff released him from prison despite a request from the federal immigration service to hold him for at least two more days awaiting deportation.
Garcia Zarate “feels terrible about what happened and he is very sorry and he apologizes,” his attorney Mike Hinckley said in court on Monday.
The judge said he doesn’t think prosecutors have proven that Garcia Zarate acted with criminal recklessness in the shooting and that he probably didn’t understand what happened the day he killed Steinle because of his mental illness.
Chhabria also expressed sympathy for Garcia Zarate, who spent most of his seven years in the county jail without medication or meaningful treatment.
Two doctors diagnosed Garcia Zarate with schizophrenia and found him unfit to stand trial because he could not follow the court procedure.
“It must have been hell,” Chhabria said.
But the judge also said the consequences mattered and that Garcia Zarate admitted to being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Steinle’s relatives were not present at the sentencing hearing, and prosecutors said her family did not want to attend the trial.
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/06/06/time-served-for-mexican-in-2015-san-francisco-pier-killing/ Time served for the 2015 San Francisco pier murder for Mexicans