Illegal Immigrant Acquitted in Katie Steinle Murder Case Accuses Government of Collusion

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

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, an illegal immigrant acquitted in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle in San Francisco, is accusing the federal government of collusion with state and city authorities and "vindictive prosecution."

Garcia Zarate's lawyers are demanding that the federal government present its communications with the local and state law enforcement in an attempt to prove collusion, the Washington Times reported.

Garcia Zarate was acquitted on charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter by a jury on Dec. 1, 2017. His lawyer had argued that Garcia Zarate's shot had unintentionally ricocheted into Steinle. However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions subsequently announced a grand jury indicted the accused on charges of possession of a firearm and ammunition, and for possession as an illegal immigrant. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released early for time served.

In response to the jury's decision in December, President Donald Trump criticized the decision to acquit Garcia Zarate of involuntary manslaughter, tweeting that the decision was "a disgraceful verdict."

Garcia Zarate's defense points to Trump's tweets and public statements as evidence of collusion between local and federal law enforcement. His lawyer said in a filing that Trump and Sessions were both using his client as a political punching bag, the Times reported. The filing accuses Trump and Sessions of treating Garcia Zarate as "the symbol of the dangers of illegal immigrants and the need for a wall between the United States and Mexico."

Garcia Zarate, a Mexican national, had been deported five times before he was arrested for the death of Steinle. Before his arrest in the Steinle case, federal immigration authorities wanted to deport Zarate a sixth time, but he was released from jail.