Man acquitted of Kate Steinle's murder sentenced to jail for gun possession

Lyanne Melendez Image
Saturday, January 6, 2018
Man acquitted of Kate Steinle's murder sentenced to jail for gun possession
The man who was acquitted of murder charges in the fatal shooting of San Francisco resident Kate Steinle was sentenced to three years in state prison.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The man tried and found not guilty of shooting Kate Steinle transferred Friday afternoon to a federal detention facility after being sentenced on his only gun possession conviction. Friday morning, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate received the maximum three years but will get credit for time served.

RELATED: Dueling theories define Kate Steinle murder trial

Today's sentencing of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was predictable. The maximum sentence for his gun possession conviction was three years--of which he had already served beyond that.

"He has actually spent around 400 days longer than the maximum sentence," said Francisco Ugarte, one of his attorneys.

Technically, after being sentenced in San Francisco Superior Court, he should have walked out a free man.

Instead he was turned over to the U.S. Marshal. around 3 p.m. Friday. The request had been sent the day after Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of killing Kate Steinle.

TIMELINE: How the Kate Steinle case unfolded

The request stated that once he was eligible to be released, the San Francisco Sheriff's office would notify the U.S. Marshal pursuant to the federal criminal warrant."

San Francisco's Public Defender Jeff Adachi criticized the Trump administration for pursuing this case.

"This is a vindictive prosecution," expressed Adachi.

Garcia Zarate has now been indicted by a federal grand jury for violating state immigration and gun laws because he possessed a semi-automatic firearm.

His attorneys had requested a new trial based on their argument that for a brief moment their client held the gun after it accidentally went off, and then tried to quickly get rid of it by throwing it in the waters of the bay.

It will now be up to civil rights attorney Tony Serra to argue that in federal court.

"There's going to be a motion made right at the beginning for dismissal predicated on vindictive prosecution which is disallowed under federal and state law," said Serra.

Garcia Zarate, was found not guilty of murdering 32-year-old Steinle as she was walking along Pier 14 on July 1, 2015. The jury agreed with the defense which argued that a single shot killed Steinle after the bullet ricocheted off the ground traveling 78 feet before striking her in the back.

"We treated this case as we would have any similar case. We're comfortable that the system worked the way it was meant to be, even though we are disappointed with the outcome," said San Francisco District Attorney Geroge Gascon.

Garcia Zarate may be arraigned in federal court as early as this Monday.

Click here for more stories on the Kate Steinle trial.