An illegal immigrant from Mexico is acquitted of murder and manslaughter by a San Francisco jury on Thursday (November 30). Donald Trump has used the case as a rallying cry against 'sanctuary cities' during his presidential campaign, and has called the verdict a disgrace. Grace Lee reports.
It was a killing that Donald Trump used as a rallying cry against illegal immigration. But according to a San Francisco jury it was an accident. Mexican citizen Jose Garcia Zarate was cleared of murder charges on Thursday (November 30) in the 2015 death of an American woman. Thirty-two year-old Kate Steinle was shot while walking with her father along a San Francisco pier. Prosecutors argue that Zarate used a stolen firearm to intentionally cause harm. But defense attorneys say he found the gun beneath a bench on the pier and fired it by accident. The jury agrees. Zarate was instead found guilty of a lesser charge relating to weapons possession. Zarate has been deported from the U.S. five times, spending much of his adult life in prison both in the U.S. and Mexico. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Kate Steinle who was killed by an illegal immigrant with five prior deportations and lots of bad things on his record." Donald Trump frequently raised the case as an example of the need for tougher immigration laws and a crackdown on illegal residents. He claimed Steinle's death was a result of San Francisco's status as a so-called 'sanctuary city,' where police do not ask about the immigration status of people they arrest. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "We will cancel all funding to sanctuary cities." The president calling it a "disgraceful verdict" in a tweet on Thursday (November 30). But Zarate's public defender said the justice system worked, as the president would be best to remember. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-DEFENSE ATTORNEY, MATT GONZALEZ, SAYING: "There are a number of people that have commented on this case in the last couple of years, the attorney general of the United States, the president and vice president of the United States. Let me remind them they are themselves under investigation."