Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, acquitted last week of killing Kate Steinle in San Francisco, now faces federal gun and immigration charges.
"A federal grand jury indicted Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate today for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and for being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition", according to a statement released by the Department of Justice. The indictment charges Garcia Zarate, 47, with handling a semi-automaic pistol and multiple rounds of ammunition on July 1, 2015, the day Steinle was shot and killed on San Francisco's Pier 14.
But when the district attorney dropped that charge, Garcia Zarate was released despite a request by federal immigration authorities to detain him for deportation.
Zarate was acquitted last week in Steinle's death.
His public defender Matt Gonzalez said Garcia Zarate will ask a judge to toss out the state conviction. The jury found Garcia Zarate guilty of being a felon in possession of a handgun, which was stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger's auto four days before Steinle's death. The defense said the weapon went off by accident, and the bullet ricocheted off the ground and traveled about 80 feet before hitting Steinle.
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Garcia Zarate is scheduled to be sentenced for his conviction in San Francisco next week. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said the jury's decision was "hard to receive".
Garcia Zarate was homeless when he found an object wrapped in a T-shirt under a bench on a San Francisco pier that turned out to be gun. The July 2015 shooting attracted national attention, with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and others blaming San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy for Steinle's death.
The case also caught the attention of presidential candidate Donald Trump previous year, who used it to highlight crime committed by undocumented immigrants during his campaign.
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