The high-profile case attracted national attention after it was found Garcia Zarate had been deported five times before, and had been released from jail in San Francisco after a drug charge despite a federal request to hold him for deportation again to Mexico. Garcia Zarate was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, however.
"This man, or this animal, that shot that wonderful, that lovely woman in San Francisco, this guy was pushed back by Mexico", Donald Trump told CNN in July 2015 shortly after announcing his candidacy.
The jury of six men and six women - including three immigrants - found Garcia Zarate not guilty of homicide.
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.
"The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that all jurisdictions place the safety and security of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens", Sessions said in Thursday's statement.
President Donald Trump cited the case during his campaign in a bid to show the country needed tougher immigration policies.
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He said the immigration status of defendant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate had no relevance to the case and the verdict was a correct reflection of what transpired. The prosecution said that Garcia Zarate fired a handgun deliberately in Steinle's direction, seeking to harm her or others.
Steinle's family did hear the jury's decision.
A spokeswoman for San Francisco Superior Court could not immediately be reached for comment on the verdict. Nothing's been on our terms.
Defense attorneys have told jurors that Garcia Zarate lived on the streets of San Francisco after being released from jail, scraping together a living by collecting recyclables and scavenging for food.
The bullet ricocheted on the pier's concrete walkway and fatally struck Steinle in the back.
He was charged with murder.
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But he told jurors that Garcia Zarate had no motivation to kill Steinle and that as very bad as her death was, "nothing you do is going to fix that". Garcia Zarate didn't deny shooting Steinle and said it was an accident.
But in a police interrogation, Garcia Zarate admitted to firing the gun, saying he was aiming at a seal. The gun accidentally fires, killing the husband. Before the shooting, officials in San Francisco had released Garcia Zarate from custody instead of turning him over to immigration authorities. City officials have said they're not liable for a former inmate's actions.
San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia said during the trial that she didn't know why Garcia Zarate fired the weapon, but he created a risk of death by bringing the firearm to the pier and twirling around on a chair for at least 20 minutes before he fired.
"My opponent wants Sanctuary Cities".
"He knew exactly what he was doing", Garcia said. "This is an absolutely disgraceful situation and I am the only one that can fix it".
In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Trump tried to link Democrat Hillary Clinton to the controversy. The legislation would increase maximum prison penalties for immigrants caught repeatedly entering the United States illegally. The bill has not passed the U.S. Senate. Holly Yan reported and wrote in Atlanta.
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