SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The U.S. Marshal Service issued an arrest warrant for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate Friday less than 24 hours after the illegal immigrant was found not guilty in the San Francisco pier slaying of Kate Steinle.
While the jurors found Zarate not guilty of murder on Thursday, they did find him guilty of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
That verdict, the marshal service said, was a violation of his probation. The arrest warrant says that 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.
Thursday’s verdict has been a lightning rod for comment ever since it was announced.
President Donald Trump continued his Twitter rant early Friday over the not guilty verdict, declaring the decision was further evidence to build a border wall.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed San Francisco’s role as the poster child for the ‘Sanctuary City’ movement for the verdict.
“San Francisco’s decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death of Kate Steinle,” he said.
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 to Sanctuary Cities was illegal.
But early Friday, the height of the president’s anger was in full display.
“The jury was not told the killer of Kate was a 7 time felon. The Schumer/Pelosi Democrats are so weak on Crime that they will pay a big price in the 2018 and 2020 Elections” — read one Tweet.
A second read — “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.”
The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also issued a statement.
“Yesterday’s verdict in San Francisco underscores the danger to public safety when our Nation fails to enforce its laws,” the statement said. “Kate Steinle was killed by an illegal immigrant and convicted felon who had been deported from the United States five times. He, and countless other criminal illegal immigrants like him, should never be allowed to threaten our citizens.”
“It’s more important now than ever for Congress to secure our borders and provide the resources, including more ICE officers, needed to deport criminal illegal aliens and to finally stop sanctuary city policies that cause needless loss of innocent life. Politicians who fail to address these needs share responsibility for preventable crimes committed against innocent Americans.”
“Had San Francisco enforced our Nation’s immigration laws, the Steinle family would be celebrating this holiday with all of their loved ones.”
Steinle was shot while walking with her father on a San Francisco pier popular with tourists. Her final words to her father were: “Help Me Dad.”
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate — an illegal immigrant who had been deported several times — was charged with the crime. The defense team claimed Zarate found the gun wrapped in a shirt under a bench on the pier. It had been stolen from the car of a BLM agent.
His defense team said the gun had accidentally discharged as Zarate handled it.
Prosecutors contended the shooting was intentional.
Experts at the trial said the bullet ricocheted into Steinle back, fatally damaging her arota. She died a few hours later at San Francisco General Hospital.
The jury was tasked with rendering a verdict that included not guilty, involuntary manslaughter, second degree or first degree murder.
In the end, the jurors found him guilty of a single count — a felon in possession of a firearm.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez spoke after the verdict was read, first taking a moment to offer condolences to the Steinle family.
“I hope that they do not interpret this verdict as diminishing in any way the awful tragedy that occurred,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was also quick to ask that the jury’s decision be held in the proper regard.
“This jury’s verdict should be respected,” Gonzalez said. “They heard the evidence. They deliberated as a group. They heard read back testimony. They looked at the physical evidence and they rendered a verdict to the best of their abilities in accordance with the law.”
The attorney also anticipated the likely criticism that could be forthcoming from some high-profile politicians who had already commented on the case.
“For those who might criticize this verdict – there are a number of people who have commented on this case in the last couple of years; the Attorney General of the United States and the President and Vice President of the United States,” said Gonzalez. “Let me just remind them: they are themselves under investigation by a special prosecutor in Washington D.C. and they may soon avail themselves of the presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, so I ask that they reflect on that before they comment or disparage the results of this case.”