Donald Trump has expressed his outrage after an illegal Mexican immigrant was acquitted of murder, calling it a ‘disgraceful verdict’.
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of killing Kate Steinle while she was out walking with her father Jim on the pier in San Francisco in July 2015.
The shooting came during the presidential primary campaign and was used by then-candidate Mr Trump to push for a wall on the Mexican border.
He tweeted on Thursday: ‘A disgraceful verdict in the Kate Steinle case. No wonder the people of our country are so angry with illegal immigration.’
Prosecutors argued Zarate had intentionally shot the 32-year-old in the back but a jury acquitted him of involvement in her death on Thursday.
Zarate – who had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when the shooting took place – did not deny firing the gun but said it was a freak accident.
The case sparking a national debate in immigration and highlighted the city’s ‘sanctuary city’ policy, which limits local officials from cooperating with US immigration authorities.
Defence lawyer Francisco Ugarte said after the verdict: ‘From day one this case was used as a means to foment hate, to foment division and to foment a program of mass deportation.
‘It was used to catapult a presidency along that philosophy of hate of others.
‘I believe today is a day of vindication for the rest of immigrants.’
Jurors found Zarate guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, which Public Defender Jeff Adachi said carries a potential jail sentence of 16 months to three years.
‘The verdict that came in today was not the one we were hoping for,’ said Alex Bastian for the San Francisco prosecutor’s office.
‘The jury came back with the verdict they did, and we will respect that…