A jury on Thursday found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty in the death of Kate Steinle, a case that sparked a nationwide debate on immigration.
The six-man, six-woman jury reached the verdict on the sixth day of deliberations following a four-week trial. However, he was found guilty of possession of a firearm.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said in his closing remarks that he knows it's hard to believe Garcia Zarate found an object that turned out to be a weapon that fired when he picked it up. He will remain in custody.
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez added: "The verdict does not diminish in any way the very bad tragedy" the Steinle family went through.
He had been deported from the United States five times prior to Steinle's death.
Steinle was walking with her father and a family friend on a sunny day in July 2015 when she was shot, collapsing into her father's arms. It's unclear how the gun got to the pier.
Sessions says San Francisco's "decision to protect criminal aliens led to the preventable and heartbreaking death" of Kate Steinle.
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Garcia Zarate was charged with murder, assault with a deadly weapon and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the death of Steinle, a 32-year-old Pleasanton native and San Francisco resident, on July 1, 2015.
Before the shooting, the San Francisco sheriff's department had released him from jail despite a federal immigration request to detain him for deportation.
A defense lawyer for a Mexican man acquitted of murder in the shooting of woman in San Francisco directed a message to President Donald Trump, who had frequently cited the case during his campaign for tougher immigration policies.
Gonzalez added: "Many people have criticized this case, including the attorney general of the USA, the president and the vice president". Defense attorneys argued that Garcia Zarate was a hapless homeless man who killed Steinle in a freak accident.
The Bureau of Land Management previously said that the gun belonged to one of its enforcement rangers and was stolen from a federal agent's vehicle. "It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others", defense attorney Francisco Ugarte said after the verdict.
Before the shooting, Garcia Zarate had finished a federal prison sentence for illegal re-entry into the United States and was transferred in March 2015 to San Francisco's jail to face a 20-year-old charge for selling marijuana.
Since taking office, President Donald Trump's administration has tightened immigration enforcement and warned sanctuary cities they could lose funding if they refuse to cooperate with federal authorities. San Francisco still won't honor a federal detainer request unless the detainee has committed a violent or serious felony in the past seven years.