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Report: Feds weigh hate crime charge in Trayvon Martin death

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FILE - In this Thursday, April 12, 2012 file photo, George Zimmerman, right, stands next to a Seminole County Deputy during a court hearing in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, has a bond hearing scheduled for Friday, April 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Pool, Gary W. Green, File)

George Zimmerman, the volunteer neighborhood watchman from Florida charged in the killing of Trayvon Martin, could face federal hate crime charges, WFTV is reporting.

According to state prosecutors, Zimmerman profiled and stalked Martin before allegedly shooting and killing him on Feb. 26. The FBI is now investigating possible hate crime charges, according to the report.

Zimmerman claims he acted in self-defense.

If convicted of second-degree murder, Zimmerman could face life in prison. However, if found guilty of a hate crime, Zimmerman would face the death penalty.

According to the report, the FBI is currently interviewing residents of Zimmerman’s neighorhood in Sanford, Fla., search for evidence of a hate crime.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said the government would have to provide Zimmerman acted out of hatred. 

“What the government would have to prove is that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African Americans. That’s why he came into contact with him. That’s why he shot and killed him,” said Sheaffer.

Read more: WFTV