Federal charges levied against undocumented immigrant found not guilty in murder of Kate Steinle

The government levied charges against the man acquitted of killing Kate Steinle.

— -- A federal grand jury issued an indictment on Tuesday against Jose Inez Garcia Zarate, the undocumented immigrant who was acquitted on state charges of murder and manslaughter last week in the shooting of Kate Steinle.

Detailed in a press release issued by the Department of Justice’s Northern District of California, the indictment against Garcia Zarate is for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and for being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. If convicted of the charges, the 47-year-old Garcia Zarate faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

Officials say that the indictment “merely alleges that a crime has been committed and that Zarate is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

This case is the result of an investigation being led by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Garcia Zarate admitted to shooting Steinle, but said he had picked up a gun from under a bench on the pier and it went off accidentally. Steinle was struck in the back and later died at the hospital. Prosecutors argued unsuccessfully that Garcia Zarate handled the weapon carelessly, leading to the shooting.

The not-guilty verdict in the controversial case came as a surprise to the victim’s family and many Americans.

Steinle's family told The San Francisco Chronicle they were "saddened and shocked" by the acquittal.

"There’s no other way you can coin it," said Steinle's father, James. "Justice was rendered, but it was not served."

Trump took to Twitter immediately after the decision, stating, “The Kate Steinle killer came back and back over the weakly protected Obama border, always committing crimes and being violent, and yet this info was not used in court. His exoneration is a complete travesty of justice. BUILD THE WALL!”

Garcia Zarate is currently being held in California state custody and is expected to be sentenced in state court on the weapons charge on Dec. 14.