The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it would be pressing additional charges against Jose Garcia Zarate, the illegal alien who killed Kate Steinle, after he was found not guilty of murder Thursday.
What is the Department of Justice doing?
The DOJ hit Zarate with new immigration and weapons charges that applied as a result of the verdict handed down by a San Francisco jury in the case.
Although the jury exonerated Zarate of murder charges, they found him guilty of felony possession of a firearm, and of "being an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States'' in possession of a gun.
Is what the DOJ did legal?
Yes. Although the principle of "double jeopardy" prevents Zarate from being tried for the same crime twice following an acquittal, the Department of Justice can bring additional charges related to the same crime.
Why did the jury find him not guilty of murder?
The jury has been silent since their dismissal after the verdict was read, but legal experts believe the prosecution sought charges that weren't supported by the evidence. Some jury members appeared focused in particular on the ricochet of the bullet that killed Steinle on the ground, indicating that the weapon discharge was not intentionally fired at her, as the prosecution alleged.
Although lesser charges were available to the jury, they choose to find Zarate not guilty of those as well.
What punishment does he face?
The additional DOJ charges could mean 10 years in prison if Zarate is found guilty. He already faces three years in prison for the state charges he was found guilty of. He will be sentenced Dec. 12.