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Politically charged murder trial of Mexican immigrant goes to jury

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A San Francisco jury on Tuesday was deliberating the fate of a Mexican man accused of murdering a woman while illegally in the United States in a case that President Donald Trump has cited in urging tighter borders and a crackdown on “sanctuary cities.”

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, also known as Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, said he shot Kate Steinle by accident on a pier in San Francisco on July 1, 2015. He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder. If convicted, he faces between 15 years and life in prison.

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The case, sent to the jury on Tuesday afternoon, became a rallying cry for Trump in his push to halt illegal immigration and penalize so-called sanctuary cities, including San Francisco. Such cities often do not use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

Sanctuary supporters say enlisting police in deportation actions undermines community trust in local law enforcement, particularly among Latinos.

Garcia Zarate, 45, had been deported to Mexico five times since first entering the United States as a juvenile.

Before the shooting, he was released from an area jail despite a request by immigration authorities he be detained for deportation, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Families for the defendant and the victim were in the courtroom on Monday as prosecutors said in their closing arguments that Garcia Zarate intentionally fired a stolen a gun at Steinle, local media reported.

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“Kate Steinle was wiped from the face of the Earth in her father’s arms because of this man,” Assistant District Attorney Diana Garcia said.

Defense attorneys said Garcia Zarate found the gun and it accidentally discharged, the bullet ricocheting off the ground before striking the victim.

A judge ruled last week the jury could also consider a first-degree murder charge.

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In June, the U.S. House of Representatives passed “Kate’s Law,” named for Steinle, that would increase penalties for illegal immigrants who return to the United States. The bill has not passed the U.S. Senate.

Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have threatened to cut off certain federal law enforcement grants to sanctuary cities, arguing the policies endanger public safety and pointing to cases such as that of Garcia Zarate.

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On Monday, a federal judge in California blocked Trump’s’ order, saying denying those funds was unconstitutional. The government is appealing.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning in Louisville, Ky.; Editing by Peter Cooney)


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Louisiana Democrat re-elected governor — despite Trump’s rallies for the Republican candidate

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The Associated Press has called the Lousiana's governor's race for incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards.

Edwards triumphed over Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who called to concede.

The outcome is another major political loss for President Donald Trump, who had held multiple campaign rallies for Rispone.

During his most recent rally, Trump begged the crowd to give him a "big win" in the election.

Eddie Rispone has conceded the #lagov race to Gov. John Bel Edwards, giving the Democrat four more years in ruby red Louisiana despite Trump’s best efforts to flip the seat. Edwards camp says Rispone called minutes ago to concede. #lagov #lalege

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Press secretary says it is ‘dangerous for the country’ to question whether she is putting out honest info

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Press secretary Stephanie Grisham on Saturday argued it was "dangerous for the country" for anyone to challenge the veracity of her claims.

Grisham made her argument after President Donald Trump went to Walter Reed Hospital for an unannounced doctor's visit, resulting in a great deal of speculation.

Following the visit, Grisham claimed Trump was "healthy" and "without complaints" -- a claim many found unlikely as the president has spent a good deal of time as president airing his many grievances.

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Sondland used WhatsApp to communicate with Ukraine — and won’t turn over the messages: report

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland used WhatsApp to send encrypted messages to a top Ukranian official, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The communication occurred with Andriy Yermak, a top aide to President Volodymr Zelensky, when Sondland was in Kyiv, the newspaper reported.

"Sondland was also texting back and forth on WhatsApp with Yermak throughout the trip, and had been communicating with other Ukrainian officials over the messaging app in the preceding and subsequent months, according to people familiar with his interactions," The Post reported.

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