As the discovery portion of the Trayvon Martin murder trial begins, it appears as though charges against George Zimmerman could get more serious. Already charged with second degree murder for killing the teen on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., WFTV has learned that the FBI could be looking to charge Zimmerman with a hate crime.
FBI investigators are questioning witnesses at the Twin Lakes neighborhood where Zimmerman killed Martin, looking for evidence that would support a federal hate crime charge. According to WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer, in order for federal prosecutors to charge Zimmerman with a hate crime, they’d have to prove that he profiled Martin:
“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 added that Zimmerman could face “life in prison or even the death penalty” if convicted of a federal hate crime. Late last night, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, told WFTV that he had received the initial prosecution documents with evidence against his client, as well as a redacted list of 22 witnesses listed only as numbers.