It's really a terrible verdict, considering the needles that had to be threaded for this to approach a threshold of coherence.
The jury found Zarate guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The facts that the firearm discharged and the bullet killed Steinle are not in dispute. Therefore, to make the argument that he isn't guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the jury would have to conclude that the gun fired itself independently of Zarate's handling it.
The trigger literally had to pull itself.
Even Zarate admits he fired the gun, albeit accidentally. He didn't claim that he found the gun, put it down and it spontaneously aimed and fired itself, in order to ricochet the bullet into Steinle.
The verdict to find Zarate guilty of one thing that implies the other, but innocent of the charge that is implied by the guilty verdict defies logic and coherence. That leads me to believe the jury was either confused, stupid, or hated guns to the point of imbuing them with mystical powers to kill on their own.
I’m reminded of another cynical joke, this time from Dennis Miller: “How comforting is it to know that as a defendant in our criminal justice system, your fate is being decided by 12 people who were not smart enough to get out of jury duty.”
Zarate got a friendly jury. If this had happened just about anywhere else, he'd have been at least convicted of involuntary manslaughter. He also got a break from the prosecutors, who focused almost entirely on the murder charge, which would have been hard to stick even in a gun-loving conservative jurisdiction. Sarah Rumpf writes in RedState :
So, we have a defendant with zero connection to Steinle. He had a history of drug crimes but no known violent crimes. The bullet that killed Steinle hit the ground and then ricocheted upwards. There was a video possibly showing another group of people disposing of the gun where Garcia Zarate said he found it.
The prosecutors didn't want to argue for involuntary manslaughter. They didn't want to complicate the case, or maybe they thought they had a better case for murder (if this is true, they don't deserve to keep their jobs).
Or maybe, they figured Zarate deserved to get the shortest sentence possible, to hoist the middle-finger at President Trump. Whatever motives you ascribe to the prosecution and the jury, the verdict is still incoherent. The gun was convicted of the crime while the criminal was convicted only of being associated with the gun.
Does that make any sense at all? Not to me.