The gun conviction of an illegal immigrant has been overturned by a California appeals court after the man’s controversial acquittal in the 2015 shooting death of Kate Steinle.
In 2017, Mexican immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but the conviction has since been overturned, CNN reported Friday.
A court document states that during the trial, Garcia Zarate said that he had picked up a wrapped item without realizing it was a gun and dropped the gun in the water after the weapon went off.
The appeals court chose to rule in “the light most favorable to the defense,” despite stating the evidence “permits at least two reasonable inferences.”
One such inference is that Garcia Zarate was aware he held a gun and did not have it “solely with an intent to dispose of it.” The other inference is that he only realized what he held when the gun went off and threw it in the water to stop it from going off again, according to the court.
The court said, “We conclude the trial court erred in failing to give the momentary possession instruction” to the jury.
Garcia Zarate was indicted on federal gun charges in late 2017 less than a week after his acquittal of several charges related to the death of 32-year-old Steinle, including charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.
Steinle and her father were walking on a pier in San Francisco in July 2015 when she was shot and killed.
Prior to the shooting, Garcia Zarate was deported five times from the U.S.
While campaigning for the presidency, Donald Trump referenced Steinle’s death while discussing illegal immigration and sanctuary cities.
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