Justice Department Weighs Federal Charges After Not Guilty Verdict In Steinle Case

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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The Department of Justice is considering bringing federal charges against Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the illegal immigrant acquitted Thursday of the murder of Kate Steinle.

A California jury convicted Zarate of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but found him not guilty of the more serious charges in the case —  murder, involuntary manslaughter, and assault with a deadly weapon.

Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Flores said Friday that prosecutors are now looking at federal charges against Zarate, reports Fox News. Among possible charges could be felony re-entry after deportation or a charge connected to violation of supervised release, according to Flores.

“We’re looking at every option and we will prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law because these cases are tragic and entirely preventable,” Flores said during a “Fox & Friends” interview Friday.

A Mexican national, Zarate had been deported five times before making his way to San Francisco, where in 2015 he picked up and discharged a firearm on the San Francisco pier, accidentally killing Steinle. At the time, Zarate was the subject of an immigration detention request, but local officials had released him from jail without notifying Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan said on Thursday the agency will work to take custody of Zarate at the conclusion of his three-year sentence for the firearm charge, of which he has already served two years. Zarate is the subject of a federal criminal warrant, meaning San Francisco jail officials are permitted to turn him over to federal agents, despite the city’s sanctuary status.

Another federal charge that could be brought against Zarate is illegal alien in possession of a firearm, a federal felony that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

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