Horowitz: Illegal alien acquitted of murder in Kate Steinle case ruled incompetent to stand trial on fed firearms charges

· February 18, 2020  
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Kate Steinle hearing
Mark Wilson | Getty Images

With all the talk of a two-tiered justice system this past week stemming from the corruption in the trial against Roger Stone, there is another two-tiered system in use in cities like San Francisco. Can victims of illegal aliens ever obtain justice if the trial occurs in a sanctuary city? That is the question we should be asking after Jose Garcia-Zarate, the man who shot Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015, caught yet another break.

For the parents of Kate Steinle, the hits keep coming. First, in December 2017, a San Francisco jury acquitted Zarate of all murder charges, including manslaughter, related to the July 1, 2015, killing of Kate Steinle. She was killed by a bullet shot from the stolen .40-caliber gun held by Zarate. He is an illegal alien from Mexico who was deported five times and was released from San Francisco jail two and a half months before without notification to ICE. He remained in the country despite seven felony convictions.

Then, when the family sued the city of San Francisco and former Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi for negligence, the Ninth Circuit rebuffed the claim last year.

Last August, a state appeals court threw out the only remaining state charges. In 2015, the same jury that acquitted Zarate of manslaughter also convicted him of felony gun charges. The state appeals court overturned those charges. Zarate admitted to holding the gun that killed Steinle but maintains that the gun fired on its own.

“It is undisputed that defendant was holding the gun when it fired. But that fact alone does not establish he possessed the gun for more than a moment. To possess the gun, defendant had to know he was holding it,” wrote judge Sandra Margulies for the three-judge panel ruling that the trial judge erred in his instructions to the jury.

Finally, the federal government came in and charged Zarate on federal firearms violations. In 2017, he was indicted by a grand jury for being both a felon and illegal alien in possession of a firearm, both of which are federal crimes. The .40-caliber SIG Sauer P239 had originally been stolen from a U.S. Bureau of Land Management agent’s car. But on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria, an Obama appointee, ruled that Zarate is not mentally competent to stand trial. Zarate’s future remains unclear.

This man had enough mental acumen to cross our border five times after being deported. He was also competent to stand trial for seven prior felony convictions. What changed now?

The disquieting reality is that after 2015, Zarate was no longer a regular criminal in the eyes of the public. He became one of the most notorious illegal aliens in America. San Francisco politicians, judges, and jurors will do everything they can to ensure he gets off free.

It’s truly shocking how American victims don’t matter in the debate over our own sovereignty. Illegal aliens can sue our state and federal governments for simply enforcing our sovereignty, despite centuries of case law stating they have no standing in our country. Yet whenever Americans harmed by illegal aliens try to get standing to sue against lawlessness that affects their security and the public welfare, they are denied standing. Criminal smugglers can sue our government, yet Kate Steinle’s parents can’t sue San Francisco for harboring the illegal alien who killed their daughter.

However, there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency even from Republicans in Congress to pass a law giving victims of sanctuary cities a private cause of action to sue, as Trump called for in his State of the Union address. Instead, top Republicans are promoting a mass amnesty bill. They are also frantically trying to concoct a “DACA” amnesty bill for when the Supreme Court likely sides with Trump on canceling Obama’s clearly illegal executive amnesty program. When will they finally view American citizens like Kate Steinle as highly as they view “dreamers?”

Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.