Could George Zimmerman face the death penalty under a law designed to protect him?
Will justice for Trayvon Martin come sooner than we think? It could if recent reports are any indication--apparently, the FBI is considering charging George Zimmerman with a hate crime.
State prosecutors are now saying that Zimmerman (a Latino), who shot Martin in a supposed act of self-defense a few months ago, profiled and stalked the Florida teen before killing him. Zimmerman is already 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 convicted of a federal hate crime involving murder, he could face the death penalty.
Talk about a crazy turn of events! FBI investigators are now interrogating witnesses in the neighborhood where the incident took place but in order to actually charge him, prosecutors would have to "prove...that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African-Americans" said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.
I can hardly wrap my head around this new and unexpected twist in what has already been such a tragic and controversial case. Though I definitely think a close examination by the FBI is warranted, why now? If they are considering a different charge, could it it mean they have found new incriminating evidence against Zimmerman which the public has not yet seen?
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Normally, I am pretty much all for anything that could bring justice for Martin and his parents but I have to admit that the possibility of the death penalty makes me extremely wary of this potential new charge--assigning that punishment would be just as barbaric and gruesome as Zimmerman killing Martin. I'm not sure a hate crime charge is the best way to go.
Still, nothing is official yet--evidence that could actually help Zimmerman is also coming to light. In fact, a medical report by Zimmerman's family doctor was just released, showing that the neighborhood watch volunteer had a fractured nose, two black eyes and two lacerations on the back of the head after the confrontation with Martin. This comes after a police video showing Zimmerman with no apparent bruises after the alternation caused many to doubt his claims of a struggle.
I think if prosecutors really want to set a precedent with this case, they should use the trial already at hand to direct attention to the irresponsible "Shoot First" gun laws that granted Zimmerman any immunity in the first place. If we want to ensure that careless shooting will not lead to another case like this one in the future, big changes definitely need to be made--and not necessarily to Zimmerman's charges.
What do you think of the potential new charge? Tell us in the comments below!