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Man acquitted in Kate Steinle shooting pleads not guilty to gun charges

SAN FRANCISCO -- A Mexican man acquitted of murder in a San Francisco shooting that ignited a national immigration debate has pleaded not guilty to U.S. gun charges. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate appeared in federal court Tuesday to face two illegal gun possession charges. 

They were filed five days after a jury in November found him not guilty of killing Kate Steinle in 2015, reports CBS affiliate KPIX.  

Although he was acquitted of other charges in the state trial, a jury convicted Zarate for being a felon in possession of a firearm, the station reports. 

In a motion filed last week, Zarate's defense attorneys argued that the charges were redundant and "incurably prejudicial," CBS affiliate KPIX reports.

"The prejudice against illegal aliens from Mexico is at an all-time high in the country; specifically, that prejudice is rooted in the premise that 'they' are all dangerous criminals," wrote J. Tony Serra and Maria Belyi.

Garcia Zarate has been deported five times and served prison time for illegally re-entering the U.S.

Under San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy, local authorities released him from jail several weeks before the shooting, ignoring a federal request to detain him for a sixth deportation.

Garcia Zarate says he found a gun under a seat on a popular pier and that it accidentally fired when he picked it up.

He was transferred from a city jail to U.S. custody over the weekend.