The man accused of murdering a woman in San Francisco this week is an undocumented immigrant who's been deported five times—and nearly got kicked out again earlier this year, CNN reports. Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, 45, is in jail and faces a murder charge for the shooting death of 31-year-old Kate Steinle, who was shot seemingly at random on a pedestrian pier Wednesday. Turns out US Immigration and Customs Enforcement was about to deport Lopez-Sanchez again in March, but gave him to the San Francisco County Sheriff over a drug-related warrant, says a source in federal law enforcement. That's when the story took an unexpected turn.
The sheriff let Lopez-Sanchez go, saying he had already served his time for felony re-entry after deportation and had no outstanding warrants, KTVU reports. The sheriff also ignored ICE's request to detain him and send a notice before freeing Lopez-Sanchez—because city officials see "immigration detainers" as violations of the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, according to the sheriff's legal counsel. Lopez-Sanchez already has seven felony convictions, including four for drug offenses, and was on probation in Texas. The sheriff "didn't even need to hold him," the law enforcement source says. "They simply could have notified that they were going to release him and we would have gotten him." (Read more San Francisco stories.)