Amid public outrage at the acquittal of the illegal alien charged in the 2015 slaying of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier, Fox News is reporting that the Department of Justice is “considering” possible charges against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate.
According to DOJ spokeswoman Sara Isgur Flores, who spoke to Fox News Friday morning, Garcia Zarate could face federal charges such as felony re-entry or violation of supervised release.
Garcia Zarate, also known as Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, had been deported five times and was a convicted felon at the time Steinle was killed. The bullet came from a handgun that had been stolen four days earlier from the private vehicle belonging to a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger, according to KGO, the San Francisco ABC affiliate. Steinle’s family is suing the Bureau of Land Management.
Although he was found not guilty of second degree murder, Garcia Zarate was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He could wind up behind bars for that conviction, and then be deported.
The verdict was blasted by President Donald Trump, who had used the case during his campaign as justification for calls for immigration reform and strengthening the southern border.
In addition to the outrage over the jury verdict, defense attorney Matt Gonzales infuriated many conservative commentators with his remarks alluding to the president, Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“Let me just remind them,” Gonzales said, “they are themselves under investigation by a special prosecutor in Washington D.C. and they may soon avail themselves of the presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt, so I ask that they reflect on that before they comment or disparage the results of this case.”
The case brought public attention to so-called “sanctuary cities” that offer safe harbor to illegal aliens by refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Garcia Zarate had recently been released in the San Francisco area when he claimed to have found the stolen gun wrapped in a cloth. He claimed the pistol discharged accidentally, sending a bullet to the pier surface, and then it ricocheted and hit Steinle in the back. She was several yards away and died in her father’s arms.
There are new demands to immediately cut off all federal funding to all “sanctuary cities” although federal courts have already ruled against such actions by the administration. In addition to San Francisco, several other cities around the country have declared themselves to be “sanctuaries.” Among them are Portland and Seattle in the Pacific Northwest.