Murder trial that sparked immigration debate gets underway

Murder trial that sparked immigration debate gets underway
Posted at 8:00 AM, Oct 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-23 11:00:31-04

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Trial begins this week for a Mexican man who set off a national immigration debate after he fatally shot a woman on a popular San Francisco pier.

Fifty-four-year-old Jose Ines Garcia Zarate acknowledges shooting Kate Steinle in the back while she was walking with her father on the downtown pier on July 1, 2015.

But Zarate says the shooting was accidental. Zarate told police he was handling a handgun he found under a bench on the pier when it accidentally fired. The handgun belonged to a Bureau of Land Management ranger who reported that it was stolen from his parked car in San Francisco a week before Steinle was shot.

Zarate is charged with second-degree murder, which could result in a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

Steinle's death spurred the creation of "Kate's Law," a bill passed by the House earlier this year that would levy harsher penalties for criminals who illegally reenter the U.S.

Zarate, an undocumented immigrant, had multiple felonies on his record and was deported from the U.S. on multiple occasions.