Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate is headed back to court today, two years after he was acquitted of all but a gun charge in the July 2015 shooting of Kate Steinle on San Francisco's Pier 14. And prosecutors will be announcing their decision either to retry him or to drop all charges against him.
The Steinle case, as you'll likely recall, made national news and was used as one of Trump's favorite justifications for his border wall and against sanctuary cities. But the issues with the case against Garcia-Zarate were many. First of all, he seemed by some accounts and in a television interview following the shooting to be not quite of sound mind, and said he'd been doped up on sleeping pills he found in the garbage at the time of the shooting. Secondly, he seemed to have no idea that he'd shot anyone, and the defense successfully argued that the bullet from the gun he'd apparently found wrapped in a t-shirt under a bench near the pier ricocheted off another surface before fatally striking Steinle in the chest.
Garcia-Zarate, now 46, was acquitted in November 2017, though he was convicted on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. That conviction, though, was just overturned in August by a federal appeals court on the grounds that the original judge in the case failed to give the jury instructions about "momentary possession" of a weapon.
Now, as the Examiner reports, Garcia-Zarate was due back in court Tuesday as Interim District Attorney Suzy Loftus gets to decide either to dismiss all charges now, postpone a hearing to let incoming DA Chesa Boudin dismiss all charges against Garcia-Zarate himself, or to press on with another trial — and the latter seems highly unlikely.
Garcia-Zarate will still have to await trial in federal court next month, as the U.S. Attorney's Office has charged him with being both a felon in possession of a firearm and an alien in possession of a firearm.
Update: The DA's Office announced Wednesday that Garcia-Zarate will not be retried in a San Francisco court.