Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty on Thursday of killing Kate Steinle in 2015.
He was acquitted of first and second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Steinle was allegedly shot by Zarate when she was walking with her father and a family friend on Pier 14 in San Francisco. The case sparked a national debate about illegal immigration and so-called “sanctuary cities.”
Here’s what you need to know about Kate Steinle and the case.
Who was Kate Steinle?
Kate Steinle, 32, was from Pleasanton, Calif. After graduating from Amador Valley High School, she attended California Polytechnic State University where she earned a communications degree.
Known for her adventurous spirit, Steinle traveled the world after graduating college. Prior to her death, she was employed by the medical technology company Medtronic.
Her funeral was held at a winery in Pleasanton in July of 2015. Steinle is survived by her mother, Liz Sullivan, father, Jim Steinel, brother, Brad Steinle, and friends.
Who is Jose Ines Garcia Zarate?
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. Zarate has been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when Steinle was fatally shot in the back while walking with her father on the pier.
Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate had completed a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and had been transferred to San Francisco’s jail in March 2015 to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.
The sheriff’s department released him a few days later after prosecutors dropped the marijuana charge, despite a request from federal immigration officials to detain him for deportation.
What are the details of the case?
In a jailhouse interview in 2015, Zarate claims he found the gun that killed Steinle, which was later determined to be stolen from the SUV of a U.S. Bureau of Land Management ranger that was parked in San Francisco.
Zarate fired one shot from the gun, which hit Steinle in the back and pierced her aorta. She collapsed into her father’s arms, who was with her walking along the pier. Steinle died at a hospital shortly after she was shot.
The suspect was arrested about one hour after the shooting.
San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia said during the trial that she didn’t know why Garcia Zarate fired the weapon, but he created a risk of death by bringing the firearm to the pier and twirling around on a chair for at least 20 minutes before he fired.
“He did kill someone. He took the life of a young, vibrant, beautiful, cherished woman by the name of Kate Steinle,” she said.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing argument that he knows it’s difficult to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon, which fired when he picked it up
But he told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and that as awful as her death was, “nothing you do is going to fix that.”
Ballistic experts testified that the bullet ricocheted about 15 feet (4.5 meters) from where Zarate was sitting and then traveled another 80 feet (24 meters) before striking Steinle in the back and piercing her heart.
His attorneys argued that even an expert marksman would have difficulty pulling off such a “skip shot.”
Zarate was ultimately found not guilty and was acquitted of first and second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Following the verdict, U.S. immigration officialls announced that Zarate would be deported. And on Friday, the Department of Justice unsealed an arrest warrant for Zarate.
The arrest warrant was originally drafted in 2015 and amended this week to include violations related to the charges of a felon in possession of a firearm, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon, all of which were filed after the defendant’s initial arrest, according to the warrant.
As a result of Steinle’s death, Congress passed new legislation called Kate’s law in June. The law increases penalties for deported aliens who are caught trying to return to the U.S. and are caught.
What has President Trump said about the case?
Trump has been anything but silent on Steinle’s case.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that the verdict was “disgraceful.”
A day later, he reiterated his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.
In 2015, prior to when Kate’s law was passed by the U.S. House of representatives, Trump tweeted that he supported the law. In another tweet, he criticized former President Barack Obama for not calling Steinle’s family.
What was the Steinle family’s reaction to the not-guilty verdict?
Jim Steinle told the San Francisco Chronicle the family was saddened and shocked by the verdict.
“There’s no other way you can coin it. Justice was rendered, but it was not served,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.