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Arrest Warrant Issued For Undocumented Immigrant Acquitted In Steinle Murder Trial

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Flowers and a portrait of Kate Steinle remained at a memorial site on a San Francisco pier on Friday. Her 2015 killing became a focus for anti-sanctuary-city campaigners, including then-candidate Donald Trump.
Ben Margot, AP

Flowers and a portrait of Kate Steinle remained at a memorial site on a San Francisco pier on Friday. Her 2015 killing became a focus for anti-sanctuary-city campaigners, including then-candidate Donald Trump.

The Justice Department has filed an amended arrest warrant for Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, the undocumented Mexican immigrant who was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter charges in the killing of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier two years ago.

The warrant says the 45-year-old Garcia Zarate violated the terms of his supervised release by possessing the gun that killed Steinle, in a case that ignited a national debate over so-called sanctuary cities. The original warrant, issued by a federal court in Texas, was filed in July 2015, days after the shooting.

After a monthlong trial, a San Francisco jury deliberated for six days before finding Garcia Zarate not guilty of murder and manslaughter. But the panel convicted him of being a felon in possession of a firearm. A sentencing date for that offense has not been scheduled. Garcia Zarate could face the maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment.

Garcia Zarate, a five-time deportee, was originally sentenced in 2011 in Texas to 46 months in prison for felony re-entry to the United States. He was to have served three years of supervised release. But in March 2015, he was sent to San Francisco on a 20-year-old drug warrant. When that charge was dropped, local law enforcement released him despite the existence of a federal detainer request that would have led to his deportation.

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Now, as a Justice Department official told NPR, "there is an existing federal detainer that requires this defendant to be remanded into the custody of U.S. Marshals Service to be transported to the Western District of Texas pursuant to the arrest warrant."

Federal authorities say they are working to get custody of Garcia Zarate and ultimately deport him.

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