The Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation are considering charging George Zimmerman with violating the federal hate crime law in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman has admitted to killing the unarmed Black teenager last February in suburban Orlando. The self-appointed neighborhood watchman could face life in prison or the death penalty, reports WFTV.
However, [Zimmerman] claims the shooting was in self-defense. He's facing a second-degree murder charge, which carries a maximum possible sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. But if Zimmerman is charged and found guilty of a federal hate crime involving murder, he could face the death penalty. .... FBI investigators are actively questioning witnesses in the retreat at the Twin Lakes neighborhood, seeking evidence for a possible federal hate crime charge.
Meanwhile: On Monday, the special prosecutor filed a list of witnesses and evidence in connection with Trayvon Martin's shooting, reports the Sun-Sentinel. "It consists of dozens of CDs and "numerous" paper documents."
Most names were redacted from the witness and evidence document obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, but six civilian witnesses were named: Trayvon's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin; his brother, Jahvarius Fulton; and Zimmerman's neighbor Frank Taaffe, friend Joe Oliver and father, Robert Zimmerman.
The document listed 18 Sanford police officers as primary witnesses, including lead Investigator Chris Serino. Corey's office also turned over five reports prepared by him, as well as written reports prepared by four other Sanford officers. ... The list includes new video evidence from the night of the shooting — both from the 7-Eleven store where Trayvon reportedly purchased Skittles and Arizona iced tea and from a clubhouse in Retreat at Twin Lakes, the townhouse complex where the teen was killed.
Zimmerman remained free and without charges for two months after the fatal shooting. That triggered a huge outcry across the nation and cyberspace. Audio from 911 tapes reveal that police dispatchers warned Zimmerman not to follow the "suspicious" teen or leave his vehicle. The Sanford Police Department has not explained why Zimmerman left his vehicle or how he and Martin came to be face to face.
The Department of Justice and FBI announced in March that they were opening an investigation into the case. Federal investigators are also probing the local police response and the initial decision not to arrest Zimmerman.
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