Zarate faced a charge of second-degree murder, but jurors were instructed to consider first-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
A jury on Thursday found Jose Ines Garcia Zarate not guilty in the death of Kate Steinle, a case that sparked a nationwide debate on immigration.
Jurors did find Zarate guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a charge that carries a sentence of 16 months to 3 years.
President Trump late Thursday tweeted that the not guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle murder trial was "disgraceful", highlighting his apparent frustration at the resolution of a case he had cited during his presidential campaign as a justification for tougher immigration enforcement. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.
"He knew exactly what he was doing", Garcia said.
President Trump later signed an executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with USA immigration authorities, a policy that a federal judge in San Francisco permanently blocked Monday. Since taking office, Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from places with similar sanctuary city laws.
Steinle's story has been prominent in Republicans' push for immigration reform - including a bill passed by the House this summer titled "Kate's Law", which creates harsher punishments for illegal re-entry into the US. Instead of deporting him, federal authorities sent him to San Francisco on a 20-year-old drug warrant for a small amount of marijuana.
Kathryn Steinle 32 was killed in San Francisco in July 2015
A photo of murder victim Kate Steinle, right, is placed on an easel as her father Jim Steinle (second from left) prepares to testify about her murder during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on USA immigration enforcement policies, on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 21, 2015.
After the verdict, a Public Defender Jeff Adachi also released a statement saying Zarate was "extremely relieved" by the decision and while Steinle's death "was a disgusting tragedy", it was used as "political fodder for the then candidate Donald Trump's anti-immigration agenda", Fox News reported. San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia derided as implausible the defense argument that he accidentally shot a weapon he didn't know was a firearm.
US immigration officials said they will deport Garcia Zarate, who had been deported five times and was wanted for a sixth deportation when Steinle was fatally shot in the back while walking with her father.
EMSLIE: There has been some change to San Francisco sanctuary rules.
After the verdict, Jim Steinle told the Chronicle he was "saddened and shocked".
Prosecutors said Garcia Zarate was playing his own "secret version of Russian roulette" and deliberately fired into an unsuspecting crowd on the pier, killing Steinle. The bullet, shot from a stolen gun, ricocheted off the concrete before striking Steinle. On April 15, 2015, Zarate was freed from the San Francisco County Jail.