What I don't understand here (and I am not an attorney) is why the jury was unable to find Zarate guilty on the manslaughter charge.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi said that charge carries a potential sentence of 16 months to 3 years. "There was a lot of misinformation and bad publicity".
Defense attorney Matt Gonzalez told jurors the shooting was a tragic accident and that prosecutors were pushing a "wild narrative of a desire to hurt someone he does not know".
A judge ruled last week that the jury of six men and six women could consider a more serious charge of first-degree murder in addition to a second-degree murder charge.
A large photo of Kate Steinle is shown while her dad Jim Steinle testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, July 21, 2015 in Washington, DC.
The defendant had been freed from jail shortly before the shooting despite a federal request to hold him for deportation.
He had been deported from the United States five times prior to Steinle's death.
The gun was stolen four days before the killing from the parked vehicle of a visiting Bureau of Land Management ranger.
"While the State of California sought a murder charge for the man who caused Ms. Steinle's death-a man who would not have been on the streets of San Francisco if the city simply honored an ICE detainer-the people ultimately convicted him of felon in possession of a firearm".
Donald Trump used Steinle's killing and Garcia Zarate's trial in his campaign for president, while calling for tougher immigration laws. Much of the testimony during the trial has focused on ballistics experts.
San Francisco Deputy District Attorney Diana Garcia said during the trial that she didn't know why Garcia Zarate fired the weapon, but he created a risk of death by bringing the firearm to the pier and twirling around on a chair for at least 20 minutes before he fired.
Garcia Zarate's immigration status has not played a role in the case presented by prosecutors.
Gonzalez added: "Many people have criticized this case, including the attorney general of the USA, the president and the vice president".
Steinle was walking on Pier 14 with her father and a family friend around 6:30 p.m. when she was struck in the back by a single bullet that had ricocheted off the pier before it hit her.
A spokeswoman for San Francisco Superior Court could not immediately be reached for comment on the verdict. The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that all jurisdictions place the safety and security of their communities above the convenience of criminal aliens.
Since taking office, President Donald Trump's administration has tightened immigration enforcement and warned sanctuary cities they could lose funding if they refuse to cooperate with federal authorities.