Gun possession conviction reversed in San Francisco shooting of Kate Steinle

Jose Ines Garcia-Zarate
Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, right, is led into court in July 2015.
(Michael Macor / Associated Press)

The public defender who represented an immigrant who fatally shot a woman on the San Francisco waterfront in 2015 says he is gratified a state appeals court reversed the man’s conviction on a charge of being a felon in possession of a gun, the one count on which he was found guilty.

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Friday overturned the conviction against Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate because the judge failed to instruct the jury on his defense that he only momentarily possessed the gun.

At trial, Garcia-Zarate was acquitted of murder in the killing of Kate Steinle, who was on a pier with her father when she was shot in the back in July 2015.

Public defender Matt Gonzalez says he believes that jurors would have acquitted Garcia-Zarate on the gun charge if they had been properly instructed.

Garcia-Zarate remains in custody as he awaits a January trial on federal charges of gun possession in the same shooting.

The case of Garcia-Zarate, who was in the country illegally and had been deported five times, touched off a fierce immigration debate.


He said he had unwittingly picked up the gun wrapped in a T-shirt and it fired accidentally.