San Francisco Examiner 8.30.2019
A state appeals court has overturned a criminal conviction for weapons possession for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was previously acquitted of the murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco in 2015.
Pictured above is the late Public Defender Jeff Adachi who, along with Chief Trial Attorney Matt Gonzalez, led the defense team for the accused.
The ruling by three judges in the First Appellate District found that the trial court failed to instruct the jury on a legal defense for Zarate, that he possessed the gun too briefly to be convicted of possessing a firearm as a felon.
Zarate was tried for murder in the July 1, 2015, shooting of Steinle, who was walking with her father and a family friend on Pier 14 off The Embarcadero. Zarate’s defense attorneys argued that he had picked up an object wrapped in rags, which he realized was a gun only when it discharged, hitting Steinle in the back.
Zarate was acquitted of the murder.
After that, prosecutors filed the weapons possession charges and Zarate was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison.
The case became a national flashpoint in debates over immigration, as Zarate is an undocumented Mexican citizen who had been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.
The case was frequently cited by President Donald Trump as he sought more restrictive immigration policies.