The FBI is considering adding a federal hate crime charge to the murder charge already filed by the state of Florida against George Zimmerman.
FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses in the retreat at the Twin Lakes neighborhood, seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge. Martin was unarmed when he was shot to death, police said, and some accuse Zimmerman of targeting the teenager solely because of the color of his skin. WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said federal prosecutors would have to prove the hate crime to charge Zimmerman, though. “What the government would have to prove is that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African-Americans. That’s why he came into contact with him. That’s why he shot and killed him,” Sheaffer said. Sheaffer said a federal hate crime murder charge could bring more serious consequences than the second-degree murder charge Zimmerman faces now. “Mr. Zimmerman could be punished by up to life in prison or even the death penalty,” said Sheaffer.