The single conviction handed down in the death of Kate Steinle — who was shot to death by an illegal immigrant on a San Francisco pier in 2015 — has been overturned by a California appeals court.
What are the details?
Five-times deported Mexican national Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate admitted to killing Steinle, but claimed it was an accident that occurrent when he inadvertently picked up the firearm he says was wrapped in a t-shirt on the ground and it went off. No one disputes that Garcia-Zarate held the gun that fired the shot that killed Steinle, and no one disputes that the bullet ricocheted off a curb before hitting the 32-year-old woman who was walking with her father.
Prosecutors claimed Garcia-Zarate aimed at Steinle but his ineptitude caused the bullet to ricochete, yet he still hit his target. The defense claims the man held the gun only for a moment, and the entire tragedy was an unfortunate accident.
In November 2017, a jury found Garcia-Zarate not guilty of murder, but did convict him of felony possession of a weapon. That sole conviction was thrown out by the First District Court of Appeal on Friday, the Associated Press reported, "because the judge failed to give the jury the option of acquitting Garcia-Zarate on the theory he only possessed the weapon for a moment."
Garcia-Zarate's lawyer told the outlet that this doesn't mean it's all over — the district attorney has the option of re-trying Garcia-Zarate on that charge, again. "That kind of error causes reversals all the time," said attorney Tony Serra. "Then the prosecution has the prerogative of going again."
Friday's verdict is another blow to the grieving Steinle family, who has fought ever since Kate's death to find justice. Earlier this year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss her loved ones' wrongful death suit against the city of San Francisco for its role in granting "sanctuary" status to her killer.