George Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, a teenager armed with Skittles and an iced tea. Zimmerman has claimed self defence in the case, which has become embroiled in controversy. The stakes may soon get higher as the FBI is looking into filing "hate-crime" charges against the Hispanic volunteer neighborhood watchman.
The potential of a hate crime charge seemingly has come from nowhere, as the call to police dispatch shows that Zimmerman was concerned about a suspicious character, and only mentions his race when directly asked by the police. Additionally, Zimmerman's great grandfather was African-American and he mentored an African-American child, as revealed in testimony by his mother in court.
Regardless, the FBI must have additional evidence that has not been revealed to the media, as a "hate crime" charge brings the seriousness of the crime to a whole new level and could even result in the death penalty for George Zimmerman, as reported by the NY Daily News.
The FBI, working under the Department of Justice, has been vigilantly gathering information from anyone who could shed insight into Zimmerman's motives. Zimmerman's attorney has indeed confirmed that he has received a "trove of evidence" from Special Prosecutor Angela Corey. The article notes that "To get a conviction, federal prosecutors would have to prove that Zimmerman stalked and killed the unarmed teen because he was black."
This case is tragic, and all evidence should be brought forward. It is astounding that unless there is a bombshell of new information revealed, that a "hate crime" charge could be placed. After all, Zimmerman was on neighborhood watch duty. Was he specifically protecting his neighborhood as a ruse to find and kill an African-American? It seems highly unlikely.
Who is Special Prosecutor Angela Corey?
A local news story quoted Corey as stating, in relation to her cases, "I take them on and they become like family to me and I don't believe Trayvon's family will be any different to me." A lovely sentiment, perhaps, but it is concerning, as she should be concerned about justice in this case, based on the evidence, not based on her relationship to the victim's family.
Justice should be blind of bias and persuasion.
Angela Corey has been criticized for her handling of the case, notably by Alan Dershowitz, prominent law professor at Harvard Law School:
No reasonable jury is going to convict based on the evidence I know of second degree murder. So this prosecutor not only may have suborned perjury, she may be responsible if there are going to be riots here for raising expectations to unreasonable levels.
He criticized the prosecutor's knowledge of the evidence by stating, "If she in fact knew about ABC News' pictures of the bloody head of Zimmerman and failed to include that in the affidavit, this affidavit is not the truth..." He went as far as to call the affidavit criminal, "This affidavit," he said, "submitted by the prosecutor in the Florida case is a crime. It's a crime."
It would be interesting to hear his take on the potential hate crime charge.
Watch the interview with Alan Dershowitz here: