SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — The Mexican man acquitted of murder in in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle was sentenced to three years for being a felon in possession of a firearm Friday, but will be credited for time already served in custody.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported five times, fatally shot Kate Steinle with a handgun on Pier 14 in 2015.
San Francisco officials released Garcia Zarate from jail several weeks before the shooting, ignoring a federal request to detain him for a sixth deportation in line with a “sanctuary city” policy.
On November 30, jurors found Zarate not guilty of murder, but convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The judge also denied a defense attorneys’ request for a new trial for the conviction on illegal gun possession.
The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department said it will hold Garcia Zarate until the U.S. Marshals Service picks him up to face federal gun charges. Attorney Tony Serra said he expects the transfer to occur over the weekend.
U.S. Marshal Service issued an arrest warrant for Garcia Zarate less than 24 hours after the illegal immigrant was found not guilty in the San Francisco slaying of Steinle.
That verdict, the marshal service said, was a violation of his probation. The arrest warrant says that Garcia Zarate must be returned to federal custody and transported to Texas for determination of a sentence.
He could face two additional years in federal prison for the probation violation.
The verdict in the case immediately became a lightning rod for comment after it was announced, with both President Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who both decried the decision.
The decision heated up a simmering battle between San Francisco and the Trump Administration. The city has already prevailed in a court case where a judge ruled Trump’s threats of withdrawing federal funding from sanctuary cities was illegal.
San Francisco public defender Jeff Adachi on Friday criticized federal prosecutors for adding the charges, which he called “ridiculous” and politically motivated.
“As Matt Gonzalez said at the first appearance, this case has been a tremendous tragedy,” said Adachi. “But what has compounded it is the fact that we have a President and Attorney General who are really spitting in the face of justice by directing a prosecution for possession of a gun after the verdict in this case. It’s very important, I think, that it be said: That this is a vindictive prosecution.”
Serra said he planned to immediately file motions to dismiss the federal charges on grounds including retaliatory, vindictive prosecution and possible double jeopardy. He said he expects Garcia Zarate to be arraigned in federal court on Monday or Tuesday.
Serra said he expects his defense to touch on the politics of the case, including Trump and Sessions’ remarks, and to demonstrate to jurors that the case is being appealed and has a meaningful chance of being reversed.
“I do believe that federal jurors will see that this is vindictive,” Serra said. “This is a case that ultimately can be summed up as a vote for guilt in the federal case is a vote for Trump.”
Garcia Zarate faces up to 10 years in prison before deportation if convicted on the outstanding federal charges.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.