A judge has ruled that a man at the center of the national immigration debate will stand trial on a murder charge in the shooting death of a young San Francisco woman.

San Francisco Judge Brendan Conroy made the decision Friday after a preliminary hearing.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 32-year-old Kate Steinle on July 1. Steinle was shot in the back as she walked with her father along the waterfront.

Lopez-Sanchez, a 45-year-old Mexican national, acknowledged shooting Steinle but said the gun he claimed to have found fired accidentally.

The shooting triggered a national debate over immigration after it was revealed that the Sheriff's Department had released Lopez-Sanchez despite a federal request to detain him for possible deportation.

Lopez-Sanchez was previously deported five times.

San Francisco and other cities and counties across the state have enacted sanctuary policies of ignoring so-called detainer requests.