Immigrant deported multiple times found not guilty in slaying of Kathryn Steinle; Trump calls verdict ‘disgraceful’

A Mexican national was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges Thursday in the fatal shooting of Kathryn Steinle, a Bay Area woman whose slaying in 2015 became a flashpoint in the national debate over people in the U.S. illegally and the role of local police in enforcing federal immigration laws.

Jurors deliberated for several days before returning the verdict in the trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported five times and freed under sanctuary laws before the fatal shooting. They convicted him on a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He has not been sentenced.

The verdict brought a swift response from President Trump, who had cited the slaying during his campaign to make his case for building a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border and to punish cities he accused of not cooperating with immigration enforcement.

“A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case!” he tweeted Thursday. “No wonder the people of our Country are so angry with Illegal Immigration.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it will take custody of Garcia Zarate once his case concludes.

During the trial, the defense called an expert who testified that an unintentional ricochet shot killed Steinle. They argued that the weapon went off in their client’s hands in what was a tragic accident.

Garcia Zarate’s attorneys said he had found the gun, which had been stolen a few days earlier from a federal ranger’s nearby parked car.

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