US & World News
Feds put hold on Zimmerman evidence, including gun
SANFORD - The U.S. Department of Justice has placed a hold on all evidence related to the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, Sanford Police Capt. James McAuliffe confirmed Thursday. The hold includes the gun Zimmerman used to shoot Martin, which Zimmerman would otherwise be legally entitled to reclaim. Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted in Seminole County Court last weekend of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges after claiming he fired his weapon in self-defense after Martin attacked him in February 2012. Since the verdict, the Justice Department said it would investigate whether Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights by racially profiling him. The investigation is expected to take months.Martin was black, and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. No evidence surfaced in the trial that Zimmerman had a racial bias, and his friends and family have repeatedly denied he harbored racial animosity toward blacks. Florida did not use its own hate crime laws against Zimmerman. Legal experts have said the FBI and prosecutors will go back through interviews done before the state case began; look at all the forensics such as crime scene records and medical reports; and review the state's witnesses to see if any who did not testify might have important information. Federal investigators are not limited to existing evidence.Several civil rights groups, including the NAACP, are demanding that the Justice Department bring federal charges against Zimmerman, and there have been numerous protests around the country about the verdict. The Rev. Al Sharpton has organized the Justice for Trayvon National Day of Action for Saturday. Rallies are scheduled in 100 cities - including Tampa - calling for civil rights charges against Zimmerman.