A sanctuary state jury has shot down the gun conviction of an illegal alien who, though deported five times, is a repeat offender and murderer. Insanity.
By John Friend
An appeals court in San Francisco has overturned the conviction of an illegal alien who shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle. Her senseless death in the summer of 2015 sparked outrage and fueled the debate over illegal immigration in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election.
In late August, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overturned the one conviction against Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, who had previously been acquitted of first- and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a semi-automatic weapon in November 2017, for his role in Steinle’s death. Garcia- Zarate was convicted of one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm by the state of California, but even that conviction has now been dismissed after the state appeals court overturned it.
Garcia-Zarate still remains in federal custody and is facing federal charges relating to gun possession and illegally residing in the country. The man, who has had many run-ins with law enforcement for drug-related crimes in several states including multiple felony charges, had previously been deported from the United States to his native Mexico on five separate occasions, yet continued to re-enter the country illegally.
The state-court ruling has no legal effect on the federal prosecution, which will continue,” U.S. Attorney David Anderson stated following the appeals court ruling. “A repeatedly deported, previously convicted felon has no right to possess a firearm under federal law, even if California extends him sanctuary.”
According to court records, on July 1, 2015 Garcia-Zarate was present at the Embarcadero near the waterfront in San Francisco, a popular tourist hot spot. Steinle was walking with her father and another friend near Pier 14 when she was struck by a stray bullet that was fired from a gun Garcia-Zarate picked up. Garcia-Zarate’s attorneys have argued that the drug-addled illegal alien did not realize he had picked up a gun, which was wrapped in a T-shirt, until he had accidentally misfired it. The bullet ricocheted after being fired, eventually striking Steinle in the back, resulting in her death. Garcia-Zarate then threw the gun, which was later discovered to have been stolen from a Bureau of Land Management agent’s car, into the water off the pier, and proceeded to walk away before he was apprehended.
The young woman’s tragic death was used as a rallying cry for immigration hawks and then-candidate Donald Trump, who repeatedly invoked Steinle’s death during rallies and other speaking engagements to highlight the dangers of illegal immigration and open borders along with the perils of sanctuary cities and states like California. Months before Steinle’s death, Garcia-Zarate was released from custody after a drug case against him was dropped by local authorities in San Francisco. Because of the city and state’s liberal sanctuary laws, federal immigration officials were not made aware of his release even though he was residing in the country illegally and was a serial criminal.
“Kate Steinle was tragically killed because San Francisco proudly proclaims itself a sanctuary city,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli tweeted following the appeals court decision. “How many more innocents will die before sanctuary cities stop harboring violent criminals? This defies common sense, public safety, and human decency.”
The San Francisco Police Officers Association was equally as critical of both state and local officials’ handling of the case and the absurd sanctuary laws, which protect illegal aliens rather than American citizens.
“This is yet another disgusting injustice perpetrated by a broken criminal justice system that is more intent on re-harming victims of crime and their families than holding violent offenders accountable,” Tony Montoya, the president of the Police Officers Association, stated in the aftermath of the state appeals court decision.
John Friend is a freelance writer based in California.