Illegal Immigrant Acquitted in Kate Steinle Case Sentenced to Time Served for Gun Charge

The family of Kate Steinle, who was killed by an undocumented immigrant, look on during a news conference in San Francisco / Getty Images

The illegal immigrant who was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Kate Steinle was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday for illegally possessing a firearm as a felon.

Jose Inez Garcia Zarate was credited with time already served and will now be transferred to federal custody, KRON4 San Francisco reports.

Steinle, 32 at the time of her death, was killed in San Francisco in 2015 when she was shot in the back. Zarate claimed that, while sitting on a city pier, he found and picked up a gun wrapped in rags that accidentally fired, striking Steinle. Zarate's lawyers said their client did not know it was a weapon until it fired.

A California jury on Nov. 30 only convicted Zarate of the firearm possession charge, since jurors considered Steinle's death an accident, finding him not guilty of murder.

Zarate, who had been deported five times before he was arrested for the death of Steinle, was in the country illegally at the time of the shooting. He was released in accordance with San Francisco's so-called sanctuary city policy, under which jurisdictions choose not to comply fully with federal immigration laws. Before his arrest in the Steinle case in 2015, federal immigration authorities wanted to deport Zarate a sixth time, but he was released from jail.

Last month, a federal grand jury indicted Zarate on possessing a firearm and ammunition as an illegal alien, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Next, he will have to face charges in federal court.

The decision to release Zarate triggered outrage over San Francisco's sanctuary policy toward illegal immigrants. When the court acquitted Zarate of manslaughter, President Donald Trump called the decision "disgraceful."