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.