Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of killing Kate Steinle on Pier 14 in San Francisco in July 2015. Once again, the American criminal justice system has failed. Zarate, a convicted felon illegal immigrant who was 5-times deported from the United States, sparked national outrage and became a focal point of the nation’s illegal immigration and sanctuary city policy after he was arrested for the murder of Kate Steinle.
Zarate was found NOT GUILTY by a California jury of:
1st Degree Murder
2nd Degree Murder
Assault with a Semi-automatic Weapon
Zarate was found GUILTY by a California jury of:
Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
California’s Involuntary Manslaughter Law Penal Code 192 (b) PC
Involuntary manslaughter in California occurs when one person kills another unintentionally, either
1. while committing a crime that is not an inherently dangerous California felony, OR
2. while committing a lawful act which might produce death, without due caution
Zarate’s defense maintained that he was in possession of a semi-automatic gun that he allegedly “found” and he “accidentally shot” the gun, resulting in a bullet that ricocheted and fatally struck Kate Steinle.
Here is the problem with the defense’s argument. Guns do not accidentally discharge. One must pull the trigger. Guns cannot fire unless due force is applied to the trigger. Guns can be throw to the ground and thrown against a concrete wall and they will not accidentally discharge.
Zarate was found guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a crime, and he unintentionally killed someone – which should have convicted him of provision one of involuntary manslaughter, OR if there was some doubt about the crime the jury convicted him of, in the jurors mind, and Zarate was some poor fellow who just happened to find this gun, picked it up and discharged it, he would still be guilty of involuntary manslaughter provision 2, not using due caution while committing a lawful act of finding a semi-automatic gun, with intentions of returning the gun to the proper authorities.
Prosecutors often assume that jurors are ignorant or liberal-minded, which they often are, and make the mistake of overcharging a suspect with the belief that some higher charge will stick. Zarate’s defense attorney argued that Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident. Zarate did not deny shooting Steinle and said it was an accident. Prosecutors said he meant to shoot and kill Kate Steinle. When prosecutors make such claims, they cannot help but look overzealous and disingenuous to jurors. Zarate should have been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and he should never have been charged with first of second degree murder.
Speculation immediately rose that the jury’s decision was politically motivated, a reaction to President Trump’s strong stance against illegal immigration, sanctuary cities, deportation of illegal immigrants, and his plans to build a security wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate may not be off the hook for murdering Kate Steinle just yet. The Department of Justice has issued an arrest warrant for Zarate and will bring federal charges against him for felony re-entry and a charge pertaining to a violation of supervised release.