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Jose Ines Garcia Zarate
FILE - In this July 7, 2015 file photo, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, right, is led into the courtroom by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, left, and Assistant District Attorney Diana Garciaor, center, for his arraignment at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco. The murder trial started Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, for Garcia Zarate, a Mexican man who set off a national immigration debate after he shot and killed Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier on July 1, 2015. Garcia Zarate has said the shooting was accidental. (Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool, File)

The Justice Department is considering federal charges in the Kate Steinle case



The Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering bringing federal charges against the undocumented immigrant involved in the death of Kate Steinle, according to Fox News.

DOJ officials on Friday told Fox News that they were mulling the possibility after a jury for the Superior Court of San Francisco acquitted the man of the most serious charges the night before.

Jurors on Thursday acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm related to Steinle’s 2015 death.

DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores on Friday confirmed that the agency is examining possible federal charges for Zarate.

RELATED: Trump called the not guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle case a 'complete travesty'

“We’re looking at every option and we will prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law because these cases are tragic and entirely preventable,” she said of “Fox & Friends.”

Flores suggested that one possible charge could be felony re-entry, while another could pertain to a violation of supervised release.

The DOJ spokeswoman also urged local governments to “reconsider” so-called “sanctuary city” policies.

“This is a person who has been deported five times – he knew about San Francisco’s sanctuary policies,” Flores said of Zarate.

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“This is a person that should never have been on that pier, and Kate Steinle would still be alive,” she added.

Jurors on Thursday convicted Zarate of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a less serious charge than the others he was found not guilty of.

The fatal shooting of Steinle, 32, at a San Francisco pier in 2015 sparked a fierce national debate over illegal immigration.

Prosecutors argued Zarate meant to shoot and kill Steinle, while his defense attorneys countered her death was a freak accident.

Steinle was struck in the back by a single bullet after it skipped off the concrete ground after being fired from a pistol stolen four days earlier from a federal ranger's car parked nearby.

Prosecutors told the jury that Zarate brought the gun to the pier the day of Steinle's death, intended to do harm, aimed it at her and pulled the trigger.

Zarate's defense lawyers countered that the shooting was an accident instead, saying he found the gun wrapped in cloth moments before it discharged in his hand.

Lead defense attorney Matt Gonzalez said before the trial's conclusion that his client had never handled a gun and threw it into a nearby bay when he was surpised by it firing.

President Trump has repeatedly cited Steinle’s death to criticize sanctuary city policies and demand a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sanctuary city policies limit the amount of cooperation between local jurisdictions and federal immigration enforcement authorities.

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