Conviction of man who killed a Cal Poly grad reversed

September 1, 2019

Kate Steinle

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Friday overturned a gun conviction against a Mexican national who shot and killed a Cal Poly grad in 2015, because the judge failed to instruct the jury on one of his defenses. [Cal Coast Times]

A San Francisco jury acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, 47, of murdering Kate Steinle in 2017, based on an argument that Garcia Zarate accidentally fired the stolen gun. At that time, jurors found him guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In July 2015, Steinle, 32, was walking with her father along a pier in San Francisco when she was shot in the back and killed. Garcia Zarate, a repeat felon who had been deported five times, then admitted to shooting Steinle.

A few months prior to the shooting, Garcia Zarate was let out of jail and allowed to stay in the United States following an arrest because San Francisco, as a sanctuary city, does not comply with federal immigration detainer orders. Steinle’s death quickly became a national controversy, and President Donald Trump repeatedly spoke out about the issue during his presidential campaign.

“A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case! No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration,” Trump tweeted after the 2017 verdict was announced.

Garcia-Zarate, who remains in custody, is now facing federal gun charges.


Why do we even bother having police? No matter what happens the offender gets off.


We need them to people like me, a licensed, insured, registered, with good tires, a properly maintained SUV, motorcycle, and truck, I pay taxes, an absurd amount of taxes, an absurd amount for medical insurance, yet these guys get it free, to write BS tickets to, because I actually give them my real name and I pay the fines too. Somebody has to.

Niles Q

Not much about this case makes sense.

Multiple deportations, multiple run-ins with the law, protection against ICE, finding a stolen gun, firing it, killing a young woman on a ricochet, acquitted of murder, possession for too short a time, nothing makes sense.

Fact is a gun’s trigger has to be pulled for it to go off.

He’s at least guilty of negligent homicide.


A US Bureau of Land Management Agent loses his gun / or has it “stolen”. The prosecutor does not attempt to link the stealing of the gun to Zarate during the trial. It is not believed that he was in possession prior to this incident. The case hinged on how long he “held” the weapon prior to firing. Why? Intent.

This case sounds similar to me. An officer loses a gun, and bad things happen. I guess Skeeter was lucky he didn’t accidentally fire off a round when handled the weapon, and then took it home.

If Skeeter did, mistakenly discharge the weapon, would we be defending him here and look to the chief as the ultimate cause of the tragedy? Just curious.

Or would we be thinking old Skeeter was guilty murder like Zarate?

Or is it somewhere in between?

Just a mental exercise. No right or wrong answers here.


The weapon was stolen. Is there indisputable proof Zarate did not steal it? I really dont know. In Cantrell’s case of negligence one would think she would have some responsibility if Skeeter committed a crime with her gun. Consider that most law enforcement vehicles are carrying various weapons inside, the trunk, the back or otherwise, and if somebody breaks into that vehicle to steal one for the purpose of committing a crime should the owner of that weapon be charged with a crime? If so at some point an officer would look like a walking WMD if they were to be required to carry everything “on person” to prevent what happened here. Still then we have what Cantrell did and thankfully nobody was injured. Had this been the case, IMHO she is 100% guilty of that crime or at least a accessories and deserves jail time.


Is there indisputable proof the gun was stolen? Other than the LEO’s word what else do we have to go on to believe that? We’ve all seen in this city/county, and have read about it elsewhere, just how often cops lie, especially about their own screw-ups, so how do we know this time is any different? We don’t!

I don’t understand how he, the LEO, would leave a loaded firearm in his vehicle when hiking in the first place, locked up or not! I believe that it is policy for most LEA’s that when their off duty they have to have their credentials and firearm with them, but doesn’t that mean “on them” and not in their vehicle?

You fear mongers can keep concentrating on this “sanctuary city” crap and I’ll bring out the more obvious reason for this crap, the cop’s inability to safely secure his weapon!


Not surprised.


If, by your actions during the commission of a crime, a person is killed, it should be Murder. This guy, in the USA illegally, fires a weapon he says he “found”, and kills an innocent bystander, should be doing life without parole.


Just think for a minute. Your wife, your kid, out at the Pismo or maybe the Avila pier taking in a nice day and some sunshine. Along comes an 5 time deported well known illegal from Santa Maria who guns down your loved one….ooppps and accident he says. Liberal law then then lets him walk away in the name of “justice”. F’ing sick. What the hell has happened to California and its so called legal system?


A five time deported illegal alien and convicted felon murders a young woman with a stolen firearm is acquitted. He has since filed a lawsuit against the Feds for a “vindictive prosecution.” What the hell is happening to our country???


I don’t understand anyone that can see any kind of justice in this case…this was pathetic…sanctuary cities are indefensible in my opinion for reasons just like this….


So this is what justice looks like in a sanctuary State. A young woman with her whole life ahead of her, enjoying a day out with her father. My heart goes out to Steinle family. It must have been a crushing moment when they heard the news…


This outcome has ZERO to do with sanctuary laws and everything to do with an incompetent judiciary, incompetent D.A.’s and incompetent police, all of whom will not allow any of their compatriots to be held accountable for any malfeasance or error in judgment.


“A few months prior to the shooting, Garcia Zarate was let out of jail and allowed to stay in the United States following an arrest because San Francisco, as a sanctuary city, does not comply with federal immigration detainer orders.“

Notwithstanding all of the incompetence that exists in the world, If this guy had been in custody on a federal immigration detainer order he wouldn’t have stumbled across the handgun and then had a tragic “accident” with it. So, mkaney, it actually does have a little bit to do with sanctuary city laws.


“Zero to do with sanctuary laws”

Are you kidding?


Nope, not kidding! Not at all!

First off living in the US without proper documentation is not a criminal offense, it is a civil matter (Arizona v. United States, 567 U.S. 387 (2012)).

Secondly ICE detainer requests have been ruled unconstitutional by a variety of federal courts across the country, including here in Cali’, where there is no crime involved (Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution assigns the enforcement of immigration laws to the federal government, and local law enforcement agencies have no obligation under federal law to participate in immigration enforcement.).

Lets consider what the majority of state and local law enforcement think of ICE detainer requests:

“Local police departments work hard to build and preserve trust with all of the communities they serve, including immigrant communities. Immigrants residing in our cities must be able to trust the police and all of the city government.” – joint statement issued by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors

“When police are viewed as immigration authorities, it creates a haven for criminals to prey upon immigrants who are afraid to report crimes to police. They are also far less likely to serve as witnesses or share information with detectives.Criminals understand that, and they will feel emboldened to commit crimes against the immigrant community without fear of being held accountable because they know they won’t call police, It creates a haven for crime.” – Austin Police Chief Brian Manley

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was released from jail because San Francisco had no legal right to hold him, no charges were filed in the criminal matter he was arrested for, so they had to let him go or risk a lawsuit. To make local LEA’s enforce immigration laws and act upon ICE detainer requests would have them face liability for unlawful detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause (local law enforcement agencies are free to disregard detainers and cannot use them as a defense to a claim of unlawful detention); Morales v. Chadbourne, Villars v. Kubiatowski, 45 F.Supp.3d 791, 802 (N.D. Ill. 2014). Federal courts and all relevant federal agencies and departments consider ICE detainers to be requests. Therefore, jailers cannot evade responsibility for unlawful detention by claiming the federal government required them to hold the person on an immigration detainer.996 F. Supp. 2d 19, 40 (D.R.I. 2014)

Also, do you realize the fiscal burden this puts on local LEA’s, a burden not offset by federal dollars! Nope, the feds’ refuse to reimburse these agencies for any costs incurred in incarcerating these people until being picked up by them!

Calling out “sanctuary cities” as the root cause of Ms. Steinle death is irresponsible as hell, calling out the gun involved is more appropriate and how it was stolen from a LEO in the first place.


Slow your role there AmericaTheFree.

In the 2012 Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. United States, the Court, while striking down certain portions of Arizona’s new law on illegal aliens upheld its most controversial provision — the requirement that state law enforcement officials verify the immigration status of individuals they stop, detain or arrest if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is “unlawfully present in the United States.” The term “illegal alien” is used by the Supreme Court in that case on multiple occasions, such as when the Court points out that a particular amendment to federal immigration law was passed as “a comprehensive framework for ‘combating the employment of illegal aliens’”

Apparently the Supreme Court understands that entering the United States without permission is a crime and it’s okay for LEO’s to inquire. This sanctuary nonsense is a creation of state government.

The California legislature passed SB54 that prohibits LEOs from asking about immigration status and citizenship and guess what else it does. The law prohibits counties from entering in contracts with the Feds to house illegal aliens on detainers at Federal expense. The only thing the law could not do was cancel existing contracts and a handful of counties are still in mid contract, getting reimbursed by the Feds. Additionally, the Feds reimburse counties for every illegal alien held in county jail on a local criminal charge.

Whether local LEOs should be enforcing immigration law is another debate, but the idea that a county should refuse to honor an immigration detainer on an illegal alien, in custody for violating state laws, until federal agents can arrive to take custody and remove them from our country is ludicrous.

If the San Francisco Sheriff had hung onto Garcia Zarate when asked to by Federal authorities Kate Steinle would still be alive.


In September 2016 Arizona dropped the portion of SB 1970 that the Supreme Court upheld, “… the requirement that state law enforcement officials verify the immigration status of individuals they stop, detain or arrest if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is “unlawfully present in the United States.” Why? Because of the law suits brought against them already (6 up to that date I do believe), the possibility of more coming down the pipe and the $1.4 million they had to pay for plaintiff’s attorney fees up to that date.

“Apparently the Supreme Court understands that entering the United States without permission is a crime…” Yes they do, but not having proper documentation to prove a person did enter legally is not, it is, and I quote from the Supreme Courts decision, “…Re-moval is a civil, not criminal, matter.”

The detainer is a request ONLY, it doesn’t have the force of law to back it up, so it opens up municipalities to law suits for violating the detainees constitutional rights and for profiling. Whether you agree with that or not is irrelevant, as it’s the law! Don’t like it? Change it!

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was no longer in custody for violating state law(s), those charges were never filed, so your argument for holding him is irrelevant.

What the Supreme Court did was affirm that the federal government has absolute dominion over immigration laws. To allow Arizona to come up with its own would allow any state to come up with immigration laws, possibly creating many different laws in many different states, none of which would necessarily meet the other states laws, or federal laws, creating a legal quagmire that eventually the Supreme Court would have to be involved with.

” Additionally, the Feds reimburse counties for every illegal alien held in county jail on a local criminal charge.” WRONG!

“In a letter to the County Counsel of Santa Clara County, California, ICE stated that they “do not reimburse localities for detaining any individual until ICE has assumed actual custody of the individual.” –


Clearly we are not going to change each other’s opinions, but I noticed you have not spoken to the one undeniable truth that had Garcia Zarate been held on the detainer Kate Steinle would still be alive. SF sheriff’s department released him despite the detainer request (which was non-binding) and I guess it was just Kate’s bad luck. But, hey, at least nobody got sued in civil court, right?


First off you don’t know my opinion on the whole subject of immigration, do you?

No, it wasn’t bad luck that killed Ms. Stienle, it was a gun used by an illegal immigrant ex-felon stolen from a LEO.

How many times has it been posted here on CCN about how the government, particularity your local one(s), have squandered your tax dollars on law suits that could have been prevented if the law was really followed in the first place by those who are suppose to know it and then uphold it? How many times?

You can’t have it both ways.

I’m not the only one who hasn’t mentioned the “undeniable truth”. I’m just the one who chooses not to use it to pull at a persons heart strings, meant to get an emotional response rather than a pragmatic one, which does nothing, nothing at all!


AmTF, your use of your legal research and interpretive skills, however eventually correct or not, makes one want to vomit.

Kate’s dead. A country is entitled to enforce it’s borders despite willy-nilly actions by biased judges and by inexplicably visionless elected officials of the liberal ilk.

Doubtless we can find endless Obama judges at the 9th and several other circuits to deny Kate’s death and deny our right to border enforcement, and cite their opinions.

Excuse me, I’ve got to go “drive the porcelain bus” for a while. It is just nauseating how effective the liberals have become.


The only reason that your so called Liberals have become so effective, is because of the absolute incompetence the Party of Trump The Pervert has shown over the past two or three decades (by-the-way, calling me, or implying that I’m a Liberal is so far from reality it’s comical).

Your wall just got the funding it needed by-the-way, at the expense of our Veteran’s and their families. How does that make you feel? How does reducing the moral of our military by reducing their benefits, again, secure our country let alone our borders? How?!!!

Build your idiotic wall! I’m old enough never to see it used against US citizens, as it surely will be one day…