Justice for Kate Steinle at last?

It’s now been well over two years since Jose Ines Garcia Zarate murdered Kate Steinle on a pier in San Francisco. (I don’t say “allegedly” here because he’s admitted to being the shooter, but claims that it was an accident.) Given the quick response by authorities and the apparent lack of complicating factors during the investigation, you might think that the wheels of justice could have moved a bit more quickly on this one, but that’s just the nature of the beast I suppose. Still, the trial finally took place and this week the jury is hearing closing arguments. (Associated Press)

Attorneys are set to begin their final arguments Monday in the trial of Mexican man accused of killing a woman on a San Francisco pier in a case that touched off a national immigration debate.

Jose Ines Garcia Zarate had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when Kate Steinle was fatally shot in the back while walking with her father on the pier. Garcia Zarate did not deny shooting Steinle but said it was an accident.

The shooting happened during the presidential campaign in July 2015 and touched off a fierce debate over the country’s immigration policies.

Garcia Zarate said he found the stolen gun wrapped in a shirt under a chair on a pedestrian pier and that the weapon accidentally fired when he picked it up. The bullet ricocheted on the pier’s concrete walkway before it struck Steinle.

The complicating factor which made this murder such a national story was, as you likely recall, is the fact that Garcia Zarate had been deported five times before the shooting. He had just finished a stretch behind bars for illegal reentry and was being held in jail on an older drug charge in July of 2015. But in spite of the fact that immigration officials had asked for him to remain in custody until they could pick him up, San Francisco police let him go. That fateful decision wound up costing Kate Steinle her life.

Will the jury bring back a guilty verdict? It looks likely, but it may be on less serious charges. The judge is allowing them to consider first-degree murder, but the defense has been arguing that since the bullet ricocheted off the concrete pier it must have been “an accident.” Prosecutors have pointed out that witnesses saw Garcia Zarate pointing the gun at Steinle, and just because he was a poor marksman that doesn’t mean that he’s not guilty of murder.

Assuming he gets some sort of prison sentence out of this, what will California do with him when he’s eventually released again? If they turn him loose on the streets of San Francisco the people should seriously rise up and physically throw their elected leaders out of their offices and then march on Washington. It was the municipality’s sanctuary city policies which set Garcia Zarate on a path toward his terminal encounter with Kate Steinle and it was our porous southern border that allowed him to keep coming back into the United States over and over again.

Kate’s Law was passed in the House this summer but the Senate has yet to act on it. This might be an opportune time to remind Senate Democrats that there’s a reason people have been pushing for it so hard. And that reason is about to have his fate handed to a jury in California.