SAN FRANCISCO—The suspect who shot and killed Kate Steinle, 32, more than five years ago asked a federal judge to be deported to Mexico or to serve jail time.
On July 1, 2015, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate shot and killed Steinle in San Francisco while she was on a walk with her father. In December 2017, a jury at the San Francisco Superior Court acquitted Zarate of manslaughter and murder. Zarate, 47, is still facing one federal criminal charge of being undocumented with a gun and another charge for being an ex-felon. Zarate has pleaded not guilty to both counts.
Through a Spanish interpreter, Zarate said in court that he wants to get this over with, telling the court “I’m tired of waiting here” and “I believe I’ve spent too much time here.”
Judge Vince Chhabria raised concerns about Zarate’s mental ability months ago. A couple of doctors diagnosed Zarate with schizophrenia and believe he is mentally incapable of standing trial.
“If neither side disputes the evaluator’s conclusion, the Court wishes to explore…what efforts should be made locally to restore the defendant to competency through proper medication, as opposed to sending the defendant to a federal facility outside California,” stated court documents from February 2020.
Tony Serra, Zarate’s defense attorney, asked to challenge claims of Zarate’s mental health. If Zarate is found to be mentally incompetent, he cannot stand trial and could be sent to a mental facility for treatment.
Zarate been convicted of a felony seven times, and has been deported on five separate occasions. The last time he was deported was 11 years ago for drug-related crimes.
Steinle’s parents, Jim Steinle and Elizabeth Sullivan, filed a lawsuit against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ross Mirkarimi, Sheriff of San Francisco, and the Bureau of Land Management for indirectly causing their daughter’s death.
They point to a decision by Sheriff Mirkarimi to release Zarate and argued that he stole a gun from a car that was owned by the Bureau of Land Management and used that weapon gun to kill their daughter. Sheriff Mirkarimi did not notify ICE that he was releasing Zarate.
In March 2019, a U.S. appeals court ruled that Jim Steinle and Elizabeth Sullivan cannot sue the city of San Francisco for negligence in their daughter’s death. In addition, the court said that Sheriff Mirkarimi did not violate any law when he did not inform ICE of Zarate’s release.
San Francisco is a sanctuary city, which allows the local government and police to protect undocumented immigrants and refugees from being deported by a federal authorities.