(UPI) — Federal firearm charges have been filed against an undocumented immigrant acquitted in San Francisco last week in the shooting death of Kate Steinle.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, a five-times-deported Mexican national, was indicted by a federal grand jury on immigration and gun possession counts on Tuesday.
The charges, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and possessing a firearm and ammunition as an illegal alien, could bring Zarate a 10-year prison sentence.
The federal indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and California-based Justice Department officials.
Zarate was acquitted last week in Steinle’s death. She was shot to death as she walked on the San Francisco bayfront with her father in 2015. The jury returned only a guilty verdict on Zarate’s illegal possession of a firearm.
The case became a flashpoint in arguments on illegal immigration when it was learned that Zarate had been released from jail prior to the shooting under a “sanctuary city” policy, instead of being handed over to immigration authorities for deportation.
President Donald Trump called the verdict “disgraceful.”
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon was critical on Tuesday of the federal charges — saying the Trump administration has turned the Zarate case into a “political football.”
“Those who are using this for political benefits, to attack San Francisco and San Francisco values, I only say that this is an incredible city. I stand for what this city stands for,” he added.
In the state’s murder and manslaughter case against Zarate, his defense lawyers said he found the weapon and it accidently discharged, shooting Steinle as he held it.
The Justice Department indictment makes no mention of the state’s murder or manslaughter charges of which Zarate was acquitted.
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