Illegal immigrant acquitted for killing Kate Steinle gets another break from US courts

Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate, the illegal immigrant who was acquitted in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle, proved that not only can a foreign national get away with murder in the United States but that they can — with the right pro bono liberal attorneys — also manipulate the legal system in America to their advantage for years on end.

Infamously acquitted by a San Francisco jury of killing Steinle while she was walking with her father and a family friend on a pier, Garcia-Zarate caught another break this week when he was sentenced to the seven years he was held behind bars after pleading guilty in March to being a felon in possession of a firearm and a person illegally in the country in possession of a firearm, according to Fox News. The maximum sentence on the federal firearms charges was 10 years.

The federal charges had been pending for 5 years amid concerns about Garcia-Zarate’s ability to stand trial after two doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia, Fox News reported. U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria said the Bureau of Prisons “restored the defendant to competency” last June.

Garcia-Zarate was also convicted on a state weapons charge, but that was overturned on appeal in 2019.

He had acknowledged holding the gun that killed Steinle but claimed it fired itself in an accidental discharge when he picked it up from underneath a bench — actor Alec Baldwin must have been paying attention here. The gun had been stolen from a Bureau of Land Management ranger’s car prior to the shooting.

The tweet below, from 2021, marked the sixth year since Steinle’s death.


Adding insult to injury, the illegal immigrant had been deported from the U.S. five times at the time he killed Steinle. After completing a prison sentence for illegal re-entry, Garcia-Zarate was transferred to San Francisco to face a marijuana charge, but prosecutors declined to pursue the case. Ignoring a federal immigration request to detain Garcia-Zarate for deportation, the San Francisco sheriff’s office released him.

He will now be transported to Texas to face charges for failing to report his location to immigration officials in a separate case, Fox News noted, before facing deportation yet again.

Somewhat comically, given the history here, Judge Chhabria told Garcia-Zarate in court to never return to the U.S. again.

“If you return to this country again and you are back in front of me, I will not spare you. Let this be your last warning: do not return to this country,” the judge said at Monday’s hearing.


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Tom Tillison


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