Soon after he was acquitted on the most serious charges related to Kate Steile’s 2015 murder, news broke that Jose Zarate was wanted by the Department of Justice on suspicion of committing a federal crime.
The undocumented Mexican immigrant, who had been convicted of several previous crimes, was found not guilty of murder in connection to the shooting that killed Steinle, 32, as she walked along a San Francisco pier with her father, BuzzFeed News reported.
In addition to his prior convictions, he had previously been deported on five separate occasions.
Zarate’s attorney successfully argued he found the gun, which discharged accidentally, killing Steinle.
Matt Gonzalez said said of his client that prosecutors were relying on the jury to support a “wild narrative of a desire to hurt someone he does not know.”
A jury did find the 54-year-old guilty on a lesser included charge of possession of a firearm by a felon. It is on this count that the Justice Department has activated an “existing federal detainer” mandating Zarate avoid further illegal activity as a condition of his supervised release on a prior conviction.
According to the warrant, a violation of the order requires Zarate to be “remanded into the custody of US Marshals Service to be transported to the Western District of Texas.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, a Justice Department spokesperson said the agency would look at “every option” and will “prosecute this to the fullest extent of the law because these cases are tragic and entirely preventable.”
Sarah Isgur Flores went on to say that Zarate was “a person that never should have been on that pier, and Kate Steinle would still be alive.”
For now, he sits in the custody of California state police pending sentencing scheduled for later this month.
While Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have previously indicated Zarate would be deported in short order, the federal arrest warrant could mean he spends time in a federal prison before heading back to Mexico.
He could be taken into custody on the federal warrant as early as his sentencing hearing or the Justice Department could opt to wait until he has served any jail time connected to the gun possession charge.
[Featured image: Jose Zarate/Kate Steinle–Associated Press/Handout]