SAN FRANCISCO — There was a travesty of justice in San Francisco. Kate Steinle was killed, and the person who was convicted of possessing the stolen firearm that killed her, is not held responsible for discharging the weapon. The San Francisco jury found him not guilty of murder OR manslaughter. That legal conclusion is severely flawed.
Even absent “malice aforethought” required to convict the man for murder, finding him exercising gross negligence to secure a manslaughter conviction seemed reasonable; especially since there was no dispute that he was in possession of the firearm when it discharged.
The Justice Department is considering bringing federal charges against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate after his not guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle murder trial, department officials told Fox News on Friday.
The jury acquitted Zarate of the more serious charges in the case, including murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon — only convicting him of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
If the jury agreed the weapon was in his care, why is he not responsible for the outcome when it was fired?
Many people wonder how the jury could have found him not guilty of manslaughter, at least. The investigation minimally revealed the weapon was in his hands and was fired. The round killed Kate Steinle. Isn’t that gross negligence? Was this an ultra-liberal jury shaking their collective fist at the president and his immigration policies?
Furthermore, regardless of immigration status, if the jury agreed the weapon was in his care, why is he not responsible for the outcome when it was fired?
U.S. immigration officials had said they would deport Garcia Zarate—also known as Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez—who already had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when Steinle was fatally shot in the back while walking with her father.
The undocumented felon could spend three years in prison for the firearm charge but has already been behind bars for over two years as the case has made its way through court, reported Fox News. Based upon “catch and release” prison terms in California, he is most likely eligible for “time served.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores acknowledged Friday that the DOJ is looking at federal charges. She suggested a possible charge could be felony re-entry or a charge pertaining to a violation of supervised release.
Whenever laws are violated and leaders impune governance that keeps citizens safe by holding violators accountable, doom is the outcome.
“We’re looking at every option and we will prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law because these cases are tragic and entirely preventable,” Flores said on “Fox & Friends” Friday.
Moreover, she urged local governments to “reconsider” sanctuary policies. These are practices that contribute to criminal acts.
Whenever laws are violated and leaders impune governance that keeps citizens safe by holding violators accountable, doom is the outcome. Kate Steinle wasn’t just killed, her family has been discounted in the process. San Francisco, and other sanctuary cities, scoff at federal laws regarding legal immigration, and it is hurting America.
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“This is a person who had been deported five times—he knew about San Francisco’s sanctuary policies. This is a person that never should have been on that pier, and Kate Steinle would still be alive,” she said.
The consideration of federal charges comes as President Trump calls the verdict “disgraceful” and uses the case to rally support for a border wall.
“The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!” he tweeted Friday.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions displayed his disapproval of the outcome in a written statement.
“When jurisdictions choose to return criminal aliens to the streets rather than turning them over to federal immigration authorities, they put the public’s safety at risk. San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle,” he said. “While the State of California sought a murder charge for the man who caused Ms. Steinle’s death—a man who would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city simply honored an ICE detainer—the people ultimately convicted him of felon in possession of a firearm.”
Without making mention of any additional charges, he said the DOJ “will continue to ensure that all jurisdictions place the safety and security of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens.”
The fatal shooting of 32-year-old Steinle touched off a fierce national immigration debate, and was used by then-candidate Trump to push for a wall on the Mexican border.
But regardless of the wall, American cities providing “sanctuary” continue to thumb their nose at the will of the people.
The case spotlighted San Francisco’s “sanctuary city” policy, which limits local officials from cooperating with U.S. immigration authorities.
Defense attorneys, though, argued that Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident. Prosecutors said he meant to shoot and kill her.
Yet in the end Garcia Zarate did not deny shooting Steinle. He said it was an accident. Therefore, since the jury agreed the weapon was in his possession, and he admitted to accidentally shooting Steinle, the jury dropped the ball. The case was worthy of at least an involuntary manslaughter conviction. Admittedly, the punishment would have been minimal, but it would have been better than an acquittal.
– Jim McNeff, editor-in-chief, Law Enforcement Today
(Photo: Screenshot Fox News)