Despite calls by the NAACP and others upset with the outcome of the George Zimmerman murder trial, the federal government would find it difficult to successfully prosecute him for violating the civil rights of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, says Judge Andrew Napolitano.
"Murder is not a federal crime," Napolitano said Monday on Fox News Channel. Congress can make murder unlawful if it is animated by racial hatred, the network's legal analyst said, but the evidence in the state of Florida's trial in the highly charged case didn't appear to meet that test.
"The federal prosecutors would basically have to satisfy themselves, satisfy a grand jury, and then prove to a trial jury what the Florida state prosecutors were unable to prove, which is that George Zimmerman was animated by racial hatred when he pulled that trigger," Napolitano said.
The federal government has interviewed more than 30 witnesses who either were familiar with the case or with Zimmerman's background, thinking, and personality, he said. "The FBI concluded that this was not animated by race."
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader, shot Martin on a dark, rainy night after he said the teen attacked and threatened him. He said the shooting was in self-defense and not racially motivated.
U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder likely won't make a decision on prosecuting Zimmerman for two months, Napolitano said. Holder will have to review FBI reports and questions asked by the jurors in the criminal case before making a decision he said.
"I hope that the answer is a legal judgment and not a political one," Napolitano said.
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