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‘CA has decriminalized illegal alien crime’: Outrage as Kate Steinle’s killer’s conviction tossed

‘CA has decriminalized illegal alien crime’: Outrage as Kate Steinle’s killer’s conviction tossed
A California appeals court has thrown out the conviction of an illegal immigrant who shot a woman on a San Francisco pier after escaping deportation due to the city’s sanctuary policy, triggering further outrage.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate’s conviction on charges of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun was thrown out by a California state appeals court on Friday, reviving the furor over a case that has defined the immigration debate. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled the judge failed to offer the jury the option of acquitting the Mexican national on the theory he only possessed the weapon “for a moment.”

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Zarate had been deported five times before he shot 32-year-old Kate Steinle as she walked arm-in-arm with her father on a city pier, allegedly by accident after the gun discharged when he picked it up, causing the bullet to ricochet and hit her in the back. He was convicted on the gun charge last year after a jury failed to convict on murder and manslaughter charges, but sentenced only to time served.

While he served no time on the state charges, Zarate remains in prison, awaiting trial in federal court on gun possession charges in January – and following the reversal of his conviction, the district attorney will have the option of trying him again on the state gun charge, according to his attorney.

Zarate, who was facing deportation when he shot Steinle, had been released from county jail just three months before the incident after federal authorities sent him to San Francisco to face a 20-year-old drug charge. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had requested the Sheriff’s Department notify them before releasing him, the city’s sanctuary laws prevented them from cooperating.

The felon’s criminal history – repeatedly deported yet still able to kill an American woman in broad daylight (even if by accident) – has been held up by politicians as proof that the US immigration system is hopelessly broken. The case became a hot issue on the 2016 campaign trail, with then-candidate Donald Trump using it to argue for a wall along the Mexican border. Trump called Zarate’s 2017 acquittal “disgraceful,” while then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed San Francisco’s sanctuary city laws for Steinle’s death.

News the conviction had been thrown out reignited the rage on social media. “CA has decriminalized illegal alien crime,” one user tweeted. “This is sickening.” 

How about we charge all those who allowed this illegal to be free in their city? [They] won’t charge the murder so how about we charge the enablers,” suggested another.

Many decried the system that had allowed Steinle’s killer to effectively get away with murder, noting that “last time I checked it doesn’t take more than a moment to fire a gun.”

Can a law abiding citizen pick up a gun off the street, shoot an illegal alien, and be released with no charges? He only possessed it for a moment!” another user tweeted.

Justice isn’t blind, it’s dead,” declared another.

US Customs and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli weighed in, calling for an end to sanctuary cities.

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