House Democrats plan to mark up legislation next week to confiscate “high-capacity” magazines from law-abiding Americans. Yet their liberal allies in the California courts won’t even convict Kate Steinle’s killer, who had seven felony convictions and five deportations, of a gun felony charge, much less second-degree murder. While the House Judiciary Committee goes after constitutional rights, why won’t the Senate Judiciary Committee hold hearings on how people like Steinle’s killer get back into the country, how to deter sanctuaries that ignore ICE detainers and cause violent deaths, and how to ensure violent gun felons are held accountable?
In 2017, a San Francisco jury acquitted Jose Garcia Zarate — an illegal alien from Mexico — of all murder charges, including involuntary manslaughter, for the death of Kate Steinle on July 1, 2015. The 32-year-old woman was killed when Zarate decided to pick up a 40-caliber SIG Sauer P239 he claims to have found on a pier bench and randomly fired it before discarding it into the bay.
However, the jury still convicted him of the no-brainer charge of felony possession of a firearm. Zarate 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. It was illegal for him to possess a gun. Don’t we all want bad guys to be deterred from possessing firearms? Well, evidently, not illegal aliens.
On Friday, California’s First District Court of Appeal tossed out the felony possession conviction as well. “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.
So, Zarate admitted to firing the gun, but somehow it doesn’t count as possession because the jury could not have known that the defendant knew he was holding it? Wrap your brain around that display of judicial gymnastics for a moment.