Thursday, January 4, 2018 · by Tamara Aparton
San Francisco—Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was found not guilty in the death of Kate Steinle, will be represented by renowned San Francisco attorney J. Tony Serra on federal gun charges.
Jurors on Nov. 30 found Garcia Zarate not guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the July 2015 shooting on Pier 14. He was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm and is expected to be sentenced to time served on Friday, then released to federal authorities. Serra will attend the sentencing, along with San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi.
A federal grand jury indicted Garcia Zarate on Dec. 5 for being a felon on possession of a firearm and ammunition and being an “illegally present alien” in possession of a firearm and ammunition. Matt Gonzalez, chief attorney of the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and Garcia Zarate’s lawyer in the state case, said Garcia Zarate “couldn’t be in better hands” with Serra.
“Mr. Garcia Zarate is grateful to have been exonerated of murder, as he has no history of violence. He is also grateful to Tony Serra for taking his case.”
Jurors acquitted Garcia Zarate after a month-long trial in which forensic evidence showed the bullet that struck Steinle was a ricochet fired from 100 feet away. There was no evidence Garcia Zarate stole the gun or brought it to the pier, and he has no history of theft. The firearm belonged to a federal ranger who had left it unsecured in his personal vehicle, which was then burglarized.
“There was clear and overwhelming evidence presented at trial that this tragic shooting was an accident,” Gonzalez said. “The federal government is free to spend more time and resources on this case, but the facts have not changed. I predict a properly instructed jury will acquit Mr. Garcia Zarate in federal court.”
It is expected that Serra will seek to have the new charges dismissed based on double jeopardy concerns and the Trump Administration’s politically motivated, vindictive prosecution.