Kate Steinle’s acquitted killer wants gun conviction dropped, too – and he might get it

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 07: Francisco Sanchez enters court for an arraignment on July 7, 2015 in San Francisco, California. Francisco Sanchez pleaded not guilty to charges that he shot and killed 32 year-old Kathryn Steinle as she walked on Pier 14 in San Francisco with her father last week. (Photo by Michael Macor-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Macor-Pool/Getty Images)

The five-time-deported criminal alien convicted two years ago for being in illegal possession of a firearm — the same firearm that killed San Francisco resident Kate Steinle — has filed an appeal.

According to attorney Cliff Gardner, his client José Inez García Zárate’s three year sentence should be overturned because the “momentary possession” of a firearm is not a crime.

Zárate has long maintained that the events that transpired on July 1, 2015, and that led to Steinle’s tragic death, were part of an unintentional accident for which he deserves no punishment.

He’s claimed that while he was sitting on the beach at San Francisco’s Pier 14, he suddenly observed an unidentifiable object wrapped in cloth. That object was a gun, and when he unknowingly picked it up, the gun “accidentally” went off and hit 32-year-old Steinle, killing her.

A jury bought this dubious narrative hook, line and sinker, choosing on Nov. 30, 2017, to acquit Zárate of Steinle’s murder but ding him with an illegal possession charge.

The acquittal sparked mass outrage at the time:

Zárate now seeks to have even the significantly lesser illegal possession charge overturned because, in his mind, even this relatively minor conviction reeks of “vindictive prosecution.”

How so? Because the judge who presided over his trial, Superior Court Judge Samuel Feng, allegedly never told the jury that “accidentally” picking up a gun isn’t technically a crime.


“Because Superior Court Judge Samuel Feng refused to instruct the jury that ‘momentary possession’ of a gun is not a crime, the jury had no choice but to convict Garcia Zárate of illegal firearms possession by a previously convicted felon, Gardner said,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“Gardner said the judge should have instructed the jury, as the defense requested, that Garcia Zárate was not guilty if he had possessed the gun ‘for a momentary or transitory period,’ solely to dispose of it, and had not intended to prevent police from seizing it.”

Given his prior acquittel, Zárate could conceivably win this appeal as well.

Social media users still exasperated by Zárate’s original acquitted were left in shock by his attorney’s latest announcement. To them it feels like a repeat of 2017.


Were Zárate deported, as one Twitter user suggested should happen, chances are high he’d just sidle back across the unsecured southern U.S. border and again rush to a “sanctuary city” like San Francisco, where he’d be safe to live and “accidentally” pick up a gun.

The border remains unsecured because of obstruction by congressional Democrats, who refuse to fund a wall sought by the president that officials with both U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have confirmed could stop most illegal immigration.

San Francisco, the California town where Steinle died and where Zárate had resided peacefully prior to the events of July 1, 2015, is itself a Democrat-controlled city.

There may however still be some hope for those who seek justice. Last year federal authorities reportedly announced they intended to take him into custody to face two new charges in federal court.

If convicted on those new charges, he’ll reportedly face an additional ten years in prison. It’s unclear whether federal authorities ever apprehended him.



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Vivek Saxena


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