- The Washington Times - Monday, March 14, 2022

The illegal immigrant accused of shooting Kate Steinle seven years ago on the San Francisco waterfront, helping draw attention to sanctuary cities and giving then-candidate Donald Trump a major campaign issue, pleaded guilty Monday to weapons offenses.

Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate had been acquitted of a state homicide charge in the killing, and saw a state firearms conviction overturned, but federal prosecutors won a conviction.

In pleading guilty, he admitted he was an illegal alien with prior felonies on his record — both of which made him ineligible to possess a gun in the U.S.

He is scheduled to be sentenced June 6.

Garcia-Zarate’s case helped ignite a national conversation over illegal immigration, crime and sanctuary jurisdictions that shield illegal immigrants from federal deportation authorities.

In his case, San Francisco had demanded federal authorities turn over Garcia-Zarate after he finished a federal prison sentence, in order to face a local drug charge. But the local prosecutor then dropped the drug charge.

Federal authorities had asked that Garcia-Zarate be returned to them for deportation when San Francisco was done with him, but under the jurisdiction’s sanctuary policy he was instead set free.

On July 1, 2015, he was on Pier 14 at the same time as Steinle, 32, and her father.

Garcia-Zarate had a weapon and a bullet from that weapon struck Steinle in her back, killing her.

Her father later recounted her last words were “Help me, Dad.”

Garcia-Zarate’s lawyers had argued the gun was accidentally discharged and the bullet ricocheted, killing Steinle.

He was homeless at the time of the killing, after being released in 2015 by San Francisco when local authorities decided not to pursue a decades-old marijuana charge.

He had been deported five times before.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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