Conservatives, Let's Hold Our Horses on the Kate Steinle Verdict

Yes, Kate was a great person. Yes, the government shamefully refused to protect her. But let's hold on a minute.

By now, you've probably already heard the news. Illegal Immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was acquitted of Murder by a San Francisco jury in the Kate Steinle case last night. The jury also acquitted him on an Aggravated Assault charge as well as a count of Involuntary Manslaughter. Zarate was however found guilty of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and will be deported.

Kate Steinle was walking on a San Francisco Pier with her father and a friend on the evening of July 1, 2015 when she was struck and killed by a bullet fired by Zarate. She didn't know him. She didn't do anything wrong. But he killed her. No one ever disputed either of those facts. Zarate's defense in the case was that he found the gun and that it just went off, firing a bullet into a crowd of people and ricocheting off the ground into Steinle. Despite conflicting statements made by Zarate to investigators about how the gun fired, apparently the jury believed his defense that the killing was a total accident.

This case, from its very beginning, has drawn national attention because Zarate never should have been on that pier that night. He was a convicted felon and an illegal alien from Mexico who had been deported not once, not twice, but FIVE times. Not only that, but he had recently been jailed by San Francisco police and then released. Why? Because the Leftist local government in San Francisco dubs itself a "sanctuary city" and defies federal laws on immigration. The city does not cooperate with ICE, and refuses to notify federal authorities when they detain illegals who have outstanding federal warrants. Under this policy, Zarate, a convicted felon with active immigration warrants outstanding, was allowed to walk away free from a San Francisco jail only weeks before killing Kate Steinle.

Over the past two years, Donald Trump, and Conservatives across the country have used this sad case as a rallying cry to denounce San Francisco and other "sanctuary cities" by highlighting the fact that if not for the open lawlessness of Leftism, she would be alive today. And they are right to say so, because it's the truth.

Now that Zarate has been acquitted, the Right is in a total uproar. The President has been blowing up Twitter (of course), and he is certainly not alone. The Justice Department has announced that they are looking into prosecuting Zarate under federal law, and general consensus among Conservatives is that the acquittal is a travesty.


We on the Right need to be very careful in our cries of righteous indignation here. Yes, Kate Steinle is the innocent victim of a broken system. Yes, Jose Zarate is a bad guy who, in a sane world, should never have been on that pier that night. But that doesn't mean that we should just go grab our pitchforks and torches.

Zarate received a trial before a jury and was acquitted. The jury heard the evidence. They weighed the facts presented to them, and they determined that he didn't mean to shoot Kate that night. It's not for us to question their decision, no matter how angry we might be. While the system did totally fail Kate, the trial was not where that failure occurred. (Side Note: in many states, Zarate would have likely been convicted of the offense of Felony Murder because he was found guilty of Possessing a Firearm as a Convicted Felon, and a death occurred as a result of that felony. However, California's law lists only a few specific offenses out of which a Felony Murder may stem).

Remember, we as Conservatives are the side that supposedly stands for law and order. We are the side that has generally supported the multiple acquittals and denials of prosecution in the majority of recent police shooting cases. Our reason for doing so? Because we trust the system. If we tear everything down now because we don't like the way things worked out this time, how are we any different from the people throwing bricks through windows and burning police cars when they don't get the verdict they want?

Kate Steinle should be alive today. We should be angry and sorry for her family. We should be angry at Jose Zarate. We should be angry at the arrogant officials in San Francisco who flout the laws of our Nation for craven political gain. We can even be angry at the jury for not finding the way that we believe they should have. But we must refuse to join the angry mob no matter which side of the aisle is goading it on.

Our justice system is still the best in the world, and in this case, right or wrong, that jury's verdict stands. And it should stand, because that verdict is what makes America the greatest Nation on earth. We give even the worst people the full rights of the innocent until their guilt is proven otherwise. And that's a good thing.

Until the country decides that there will be no such thing as a "Sanctuary City" and that all those states that allow sanctuary cities get punished by the federal purse, the problem will persist. This isn't the first serious felony by an illegal, and it sure isn't going to be the last. I think an illegal should stand for any punishment that a citizen does, if not worse. There are countries that will put you in front of a machine gun and be ripped apart for buying drugs. The United States is the most tolerant to the illegal, and that needs to change, if it means aiming the weapon where it hurts.

Trey, this was a good article. Thank you.

To the man who said that OJ was convicted because he was rich and famous. I refer you to ESPNs documentary on the trial. One female black juror admitted that she knew he was guilty but that it was time for the blacks to win one, and she voted not guilty. She now feels very badly about it, but at that time, race relations in LA were abysmal and the black community wanted a win no matter the guilt or innocence. Juries ARE influenced by matters other than evidence, at times.

Maybe we should adopt the same attitude about those who come here illegally as the countries they come from. How do you think the vedict would have gone if it had been an American in Mexico who killed a Mexican woman? For reference I suggest we look at the young American soldier who spent many many months in a Mexican prison (and who knows what abuse he suffered there) for making a driving mistake that could easily have been made by any of us. Granted he had guns in his truck, but they were NOT in his hands, nor if I have my facts right within reach of his hands. Furthermore, he hadn't illegally crossed into Mexico many times.
This man should be languishing in a Mexican prison. We don't need to build a wall. Just pay the Mexican government a reasonable amount of money to lock up any person who comes here illegally to keep them in a Mexican prison (where I heard the living conditions are not up to our standards).

COULDN'T AGREE MORE. When the verdict was first announced, I consulted the applicable California penal code to determine if the jury was irresponsible. Having read the codes there was no way I could justify a guilty verdict for anything but illegal possession of a firearm. The verdict was correct. I wasn't happy, but I knew the jury's verdict was just. The REAL culprits here are the CA officials who permitted this felonious illegal alien to be where he was when he accidentally killed Ms. Steinle. If legally possible, these irresponsible officials should be up on charges.

@TreyBennett : 1.) A key point is Ferguson rioted for a fiction in contrast to the facts of the case. For a fable. While in this case the facts are not disputed. A man fired a gun in a public place resulting in the death of a young woman. But apparently that isn't worthy of being an actual crime. 2.) I'm curious would the Founders similarly "prove {your} point"? After all they also challenged and delegitimized a system they saw as unjust and unfair to them. To the point of open warfare and forcefully succeeding from British Rule.

If the prosecution had a competent gunsmith examine the thing and testify that there was no damage or alteration to it that would cause it to discharge without pressing the trigger, then "guilty" would be almost assured. If the prosecution did not have the gun examined, they were derelict in their duty; this smells like the intentional bumgling prosecution of OJ.

As someone who was in a trial and watched the judge commit one egregious act of judicial misconduct after another, including allowing extensive testimony and cross examination on matters totally unrelated to the case but designed to smear one of the defendants, openly treating the attorneys for the defense in a contemptuous manner and automatically denying every one of their motions, making a motion for the prosecution when the attorney did not do so himself, saying loudly in front of the jury that the defense had not proved its case before the prosecution had even rested, giving the prosecution half of the time allowed for the defense and thereby forcing the defense to curtail its case, arbitrarily throwing out nearly every single aspect of the defense case, treating everyone on the defense side with obvious scorn and derision, and then informing the attorneys that he was withholding the ability to rule on his own if he didn't like the verdict of the jury (after telling them what it should be) I have absolutely NO faith in the concept of a fair trial. I would need to see how the judge ruled in motions made by the prosecution and determine for myself if the judge acted properly before I could have any confidence whatsoever in an acquittal. No matter what we may have been told about jury trials, the judge is who is driving the bus, and a corrupt or activist judge can-----and WILL----direct the trial in the direction he or she wants it to go. Our judicial system is a mess, mostly due to immunity for judges and their ability to do whatever they want to do to further their own biases or agendas without fear of consequences. A jury trial is, too often, a mere sham, a show trial to cover up the fact that the real decision will be made by one person.

I was with you until you asked how we were any different than the ones throwing bricks and starting fires. I have not seen any conservative riots, nor have I seen rock and brick throwing - those who are upset are using their words, guaranteed by the 1st amendment, people are upset and they are talking. It's ok. Talking angrily is not the moral equivalent of brick throwing.

I think the family should sue the sanctuary city! They released a criminal wanted in violation of federal law, and without notifying federal officials they were holding the individual.

first of all guns do not generally "go off by accident." Where were the gun experts on this case to testify to such? I also want to know if anyone can assure me that the jury wasn't full of illegal immigrants? It would have to be to be a "jury of his peers" would it not? WIth the sanctuary city policy there, along with them giving driver's licenses to illegals, I don't know how you could think there weren't illegal immigrants on that jury.