ONTD Political

FBI seeks to charge George Zimmerman with hate crime

7:08 pm - 05/14/2012
SANFORD, Fla. — WFTV has learned charges against George Zimmerman could be getting more serious.

State prosecutors said Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, profiled and stalked 17-year-old Trayvon Martin before killing him, so the FBI is now looking into charging him with a hate crime.

Zimmerman admitted to killing Martin in February during a confrontation. However, he 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.

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.

Zimmerman said he used deadly force in self-defense after Martin punched him, knocked him to the ground and repeatedly slammed his head against a sidewalk.

As of late Monday, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, told WFTV that he's gotten the first prosecution documents containing the evidence against his client. O’Mara said he's gotten a redacted witness list with 22 witnesses listed only as numbers.

O’Mara said he believes there are recorded interviews and some documents, but he said he hasn't even opened it yet.

Prosecutors are required to release information to the defense and the public.

However, O'Mara, wants Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. to keep some of the key evidence, especially witness statements, out of the public eye by writing a motion to keep it sealed.

O'Mara posted a statement on Zimmerman's website that said, "We doubt any of them (witnesses) enjoy the scrutiny they are under due to the coincidence of their involvement in such a high-profile matter."

In the meantime, a photograph recently surfaced which is said to show Zimmerman's mother in the arms of her grandfather, who is black.

Zimmerman's mother testified at his bond hearing that she has met the black child whom he mentored and even risked his safety in a dangerous neighborhood to do it, because he didn't want to abandon the child.

State prosecutors said Zimmerman gave several inconsistent statements to Sanford police, which is, in part, their basis for charging him with second-degree murder.



Well well well. I think it's a bit of a stretch to go OMG BUT HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY THINK THIS IS RACIALLY MOTIVATED HE MENTORED A BLACK CHILD OMG when he has how long a history of targeting "suspicious black men" in his neighborhood?
mskye 15th-May-2012 05:04 am (UTC)
But if Zimmerman is charged and found guilty of a federal hate crime involving murder, he could face the death penalty.

kaowolfie 15th-May-2012 05:13 am (UTC)
If he dies a natural death, there's always the chance that he'll eventually regret what he did and have to live with it.

...plus the usual issues where the death penalty disproportionately affects *black men*, so supporting it involves supporting a racist institution.
mskye 15th-May-2012 05:26 am (UTC)
I just really want Zimmerman to die, okay?
tabaqui 15th-May-2012 05:27 am (UTC)
I really kinda do, too.
kaowolfie 15th-May-2012 06:11 am (UTC)
So... want him to die without being all enthused about the death penalty? :/ Capitol punishment is rotten with racism, all the way through it, in ways that can and does get innocent men of color killed. It's part and parcel of the same filthy shit that lives in Zimmerman's brain.
chaya 15th-May-2012 01:40 pm (UTC)
It's a process often used against the wrong people, so we shouldn't let ourselves be happy when there's a chance it's going to be used correctly?
kaowolfie 15th-May-2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
You haven't met many people who don't care about the people wrongfully given death sentences and/or killed, so long as the one person *they* want to die dies, have you? 'cause really, I have, and that reasoning fucking sucks and helps to perpetuate a fucked up system.

But what do I know? I just think Amnesty International is right. And that it's better to let a few people rot in jail for the rest of their lives than to risk killing a) innocents or b) people only on death row because they're mentally ill or brown.
chaya 15th-May-2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
I feel like you're really moving the goal posts here. Nobody said they don't care about incorrect death sentences, or feel that those deaths are worth it for the correctly-made death sentences, or any of that. Just that this one particular person might get the death penalty, and that makes them happy enough to post gifs. Being happy about a possible instance of the system working as it was intended simply isn't the same as explicitly endorsing the system as a whole or saying you don't care about those that are wrongfully sentenced.
kaowolfie 15th-May-2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
Supporting the system "working as intended" is the same as supporting the system, when it comes to the state murdering people.
chaya 15th-May-2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
So is it that it's racist or that you feel like it's murder? Not that I have any qualm with either.
kaowolfie 15th-May-2012 04:39 pm (UTC)
Uh, both?
chaya 15th-May-2012 04:41 pm (UTC)
lickbrains 15th-May-2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
Seriously, this.
illusivevenstar 15th-May-2012 08:25 pm (UTC)
agreed. heaven forbid anyone have an emotional reaction in the face of such horror of what happened. but haven't you heard, we're just like zimmerman now.
chaya 15th-May-2012 08:27 pm (UTC)
Yeah idk. I get if you don't believe in capital punishment at all, buuut...
mskye 15th-May-2012 02:12 pm (UTC)
i don't feel guilty for wanting zimmerman to die, lol
illusivevenstar 15th-May-2012 08:21 pm (UTC)
lol, the "you're just as bad as they are" fallacy. no, we are not the same as a racist murderer, so let's drop the self righteousness.
kaowolfie 15th-May-2012 10:16 pm (UTC)
Yes, pointing out some of the problems with the death penalty is implying that people who want Zimmerman dead by government are "just as bad". Uh, no, not quite. But hey, keep on with your bad self.
etherealtsuki 15th-May-2012 07:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, but putting him to death is no better. State sanctioned murder is still murder and people are just sinking near his level.

He's better rotting off in some fed prison for the rest of his life.
wrongheaded The price of revenge is too damn high.15th-May-2012 09:24 am (UTC)
Current plan: murder/lock up everyone who does things we don't like. Learn nothing, achieve nothing, save nothing.

Better plan: study/interview/test everyone who does things we don't like. Learn why they do those things, and how to identify the people who are at the greatest risk of doing them in the future. Get those people treatment, achieve drastic reduction in crime and suffering. Save thousands of lives.

We've been doing this punishment thing for centuries. It doesn't work. Time for a new approach.
seamouse 15th-May-2012 10:05 am (UTC)
I saw some really interesting stuff about the Norwegian judicial system, much more focused on rehabilitation than that of the US, and their crime and recidivism (sp?) rates are really really low, as is their imprisonment per capita
hammersxstrings Re: The price of revenge is too damn high.15th-May-2012 03:48 pm (UTC)
kaowolfie Re: The price of revenge is too damn high.15th-May-2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
The price of revenge is too damn high.

A-fucking-men. Like your better plan, too - prevention, actual prevention, and fixing the causes of crime, beats the shit out of an eye for an eye.
lickbrains Re: The price of revenge is too damn high.15th-May-2012 07:45 pm (UTC)
Yes, this. Get Sicko and watch the extras. I remember there being these two serial killers who were rehabilitated into being better people and their progress is really quite amazing. I wish our system adopted this instead of throwing black/Hispanic people who were trying to make a living in low-income areas people into prison cells and shit. It'd benefit society far more.
asrana 15th-May-2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
This. I saw a report about rehabilitation back into the community of people convicted of paedophilia-related crimes after they've served their sentences. My brain wants to say it was somewhere in Canada, but I really couldn't say. Anyway the offenders had mentors, a support group, and were actively encouraged to go out and mingle with their local community, get to know people, get involved, etc. They had to be up front about their criminal records, which was hard, but even so they were at least tolerated/mildly accepted and due to being involved and building those connections, they are substantially less likely to reoffend (at least a short time after release whereas the recidivism rate was pretty high even just soon after release, otherwise).

The problem was, of course, some people didn't want to forgive, even if never forget, some people feel that it has to be all about PUNISHMENT and SUFFERING WITHOUT END. Only that isn't really conducive to turning out individuals who can positively contribute to society...
effervescent 16th-May-2012 02:52 am (UTC)
If that's the program I'm thinking of, I'm sad because it just got cut due to funding... Were the mentors former prisoners themselves?

abee 15th-May-2012 09:31 am (UTC)
Agreed. Some people do deserve to die after what they did.
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