Less than a week after being found not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle, illegal immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate has been indicted on new charges by a federal grand jury.
The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that Zarate has been charged for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and for being “an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition.”
The indictment charges Zarate with handling a semi-automatic pistol and several rounds of ammunition on July 1, 2015, when Steinle was fatally shot on a San Francisco Pier.
Zarate faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted on either charge.
A San Francisco Superior Court jury last Thursday determined Zarate was not guilty of first- or second-degree murder, or manslaughter, but did find him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Zarate is an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had been deported several times and has faced convictions for entering the U.S. again after being deported.
Several months before Steinle’s death he was released from a San Francisco jail upon the dismissal of a minor drug charge.
San Francisco, which is a so-called "sanctuary city," allowed his release despite a detainer that had been issued from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Sanctuary cities limit their cooperation with the federal government’s initiatives to implement immigration laws.
The defense argued that 32-year-old Steinle had been accidentally shot after a bullet bounced off a concrete walkway and then hit Steinle. Zarate said the gun had gone off accidentally, after he had found it wrapped in a T-shirt under a bench.
Prosecutors argued he intentionally aimed for Steinle while “playing his own secret version of Russian roulette.”
The gun had been stolen from the care of a federal Bureau of Land Management ranger just a week prior to the shooting.