Murder trial begins for illegal immigrant who sparked ‘sanctuary city’ debate

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, also known as Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez © Michael Macor / Reuters

Jurors in the trial of an illegal immigrant charged with the 2015 murder of a 32-year-old San Francisco woman were told to ignore both immigration and gun control. The suspect had been deported from the US five times, but kept returning to the “sanctuary city.”

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Opening statements in the trial of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate began Monday at the Superior Court of California in San Francisco. Zarate, 54, is accused of killing Katherine “Kate” Steinle as she sat with her father on San Francisco’s Pier 14 in July 2015.

Zarate, who has also gone by the names Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez and Juan Jose Dominguez de la Parr, had been deported from the United States five times. He also had several prior criminal convictions, including four felonies for possession of heroin and manufacturing narcotics.

He was released from a San Francisco jail for re-entering the US illegally only two and a half months before the shooting. After his release, Zarate was not deported because San Francisco refuses to turn over illegal immigrants to federal authorities, under the so-called “sanctuary” policies. Zarate said that he returned to the US seeking employment, and came to San Francisco because of the protections the city offers to illegal immigrants.

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The case became a flashpoint in the debate about illegal immigration and “sanctuary cities,” an issue emphasized by President Donald Trump during his 2016 election campaign.

However, during jury selection, Judge Samuel Feng told prospective jurors that their political views should not enter into their deliberations. The jury has also been barred from bringing up the politics of immigration and gun control during the proceedings.

The jury, which induces three immigrants, has been instructed to consider only one question in the case: whether Zarate shot Steinle intentionally, or was it an accident?

Zarate has pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that the shooting was not intentional. His attorney, Matt Gonzalez, called the shooting a “freak accident,” claiming his client was 90 feet away and the bullet bounced off the pavement before hitting Steinle.

After the shooting, Zarate had told reporters he had found the gun wrapped in a T-shirt near the beach. When he picked it up, the gun accidentally fired three times, Zarate said in an interview with KGO-TV. He then threw the gun into the San Francisco Bay and walked off, not knowing he had shot anyone until he was arrested hours later.

However, Zarate also said that he had taken sleeping pills before the shooting, and that his memory of the events is not clear.

The handgun was issued to a Bureau of Land Management ranger who had reported it stolen from his parked car in San Francisco a week before the shooting occurred. Gonzalez contends that the .40-caliber SIG Sauer P226 was left in hair-trigger mode and had no safety device.

Prosecutors contend that the gun was in a position that would have required a conscious, deliberate action in order to pull the trigger. They also contend that Zarate pointed the gun at people on the pier.

“This was an act of random violence,” Assistant DA Diana Garcia said in 2015, according to CNN. “And the defendant claimed to have found this gun shortly before just firing it at somebody at close range, shooting an innocent victim in the back.”

The San Francisco district attorney’s office has charged Zarate with second-degree murder, which could carry a maximum sentence of 15 years to life. His trial is expected to take between six and eight weeks.

In June, Republicans introduced Kate’s Law, a bill that would impose mandatory minimum sentences on illegal immigrants who returned to the United States after previously being deported. The was adopted in the House of Representatives. Trump has called on lawmakers in the Senate to send the bill to his desk for signature.

 

One thought on “Murder trial begins for illegal immigrant who sparked ‘sanctuary city’ debate

  1. docfnc
    David Olen Cross writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime

    Oregon Department of Corrections: Foreign National Homicide Report September 2017

    October 28, 2017

    Data Compiled By David Olen Cross

    Information obtained from the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) indicated on September 1, 2017 that 137 of the 971 foreign nationals (criminal aliens) in the state’s prison system were incarcerated for homicidal crimes (various degrees of murder and manslaughter), 14.11 percent of the criminal alien prison population.

    Using DOC U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration detainer numbers, the following table reveals the total number criminal alien inmates along with the number and percentage of those alien inmates incarcerated on September 1st in the state’s prisons for homicidal crimes.

    OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
    Month/Day/Year DOC Total Inmates W/ICE Detainers DOC Number of Inmates W/ICE Detainers for Homicidal Crimes DOC Percent of Inmates W/ICE Detainers for Homicidal Crimes
    September 1, 2017 971 137 14.11%
    Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 September 17.

    Using DOC ICE immigration detainer numbers, the following table reveals the number and percentage of criminal alien inmates incarcerated on September 1st that were sent to prison from the state’s 36 counties for homicidal crimes.

    OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
    County DOC Number of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers by County Incarcerated for Homicidal Crimes DOC Percent of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers by County Incarcerated for Homicidal Crimes
    Multnomah 39 28.47%
    Marion 22 16.06%
    Washington 21 15.33%
    Umatilla 11 8.03%
    Clackamas 7 5.11%
    Jackson 6 4.38%
    Lane 5 3.65%
    Klamath 3 2.19%
    Linn 3 2.19%
    Yamhill 3 2.19%
    Benton 2 1.46%
    Josephine 2 1.46%
    Lincoln 2 1.46%
    Polk 2 1.46%
    Clatsop 1 0.73%
    Coos 1 0.73%
    Douglas 1 0.73%
    Gilliam 1 0.73%
    Hood River 1 0.73%
    Jefferson 1 0.73%
    Malheur 1 0.73%
    OOS (Not a County) 1 0.73%
    Tillamook 1 0.73%
    Baker 0 0.00%
    Columbia 0 0.00%
    Crook 0 0.00%
    Curry 0 0.00%
    Deschutes 0 0.00%
    Grant 0 0.00%
    Harney 0 0.00%
    Lake 0 0.00%
    Morrow 0 0.00%
    Sherman 0 0.00%
    Union 0 0.00%
    Wallowa 0 0.00%
    Wasco 0 0.00%
    Wheeler 0 0.00%
    Total 137 100.00%
    Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 September 17.

    Using DOC ICE immigration detainer numbers, the following table reveals the self-declared countries of origin of the 137 criminal alien inmates by number and percentage incarcerated on September 1st in the state’s prisons for homicidal crimes.

    OREGON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
    Country DOC Number of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers by Country Incarcerated for Homicidal Crimes DOC Percent of Inmates W/ ICE Detainers by Country Incarcerated for Homicidal Crimes
    Mexico 107 78.10%
    Cuba 4 2.92%
    Canada 3 2.19%
    Vietnam 3 2.19%
    Cambodia 2 1.46%
    El Salvador 2 1.46%
    Guatemala 2 1.46%
    Laos 2 1.46%
    South Korea 2 1.46%
    China 1 0.73%
    Costa Rica 1 0.73%
    Japan 1 0.73%
    Mariana Islands 1 0.73%
    Marshall Islands 1 0.73%
    Nicaragua 1 0.73%
    Nigeria 1 0.73%
    Peru 1 0.73%
    South Africa 1 0.73%
    Turkey 1 0.73%
    Total 137 100.00%
    Source: Research and Evaluation DOC Report ICE inmates list 01 September 17.

    Criminal aliens from 19 different countries have committed homicidal violence against residents in the state of Oregon.

    David Olen Cross of Salem, Oregon writes on immigration issues and foreign national crime. This report is a service to Oregon state, county and city governmental officials to help them assess the impact of foreign national crime in the state. He can be reached at docfnc@yahoo.com or at http://docfnc.wordpress.com/

    https://docfnc.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/oregon-department-of-corrections-foreign-national-homicide-report-september-2017/

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