The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 15, 2013

Jury instructions at center of Zimmerman verdict

(Continued)

After calling police dispatchers, Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin. He says Martin attacked him. Prosecutors disputed that. The evidence was unclear.

None of Zimmerman's neighbors saw or heard the entire fight, and eyewitnesses gave differing accounts of whether Zimmerman or Martin was on top. Martin's parents testified it was their son screaming for help on 911 calls made by Zimmerman's neighbors. Zimmerman's parents testified that no, it was their son. The fight ended seconds after the screams when Zimmerman fired one shot from his handgun into Martin's heart.

Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic. His mother is from Peru and his father is white. After the verdict, civil rights leader Al Sharpton asked the U.S. Justice Department to bring charges against Zimmerman for civil rights violations as it did against the Los Angeles police officers in the Rodney King police beating case two decades ago.

NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous concurred and started a petition calling for federal charges.

"The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin," Jealous wrote in the petition, posted on the website MoveOn.org and addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder may address the matter when he talks to NAACP members Tuesday at their national convention in Orlando.

But federal law probably doesn't apply, said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in Miami. Unlike the police officers in the King case, Zimmerman wasn't acting "under color of law."

There also is little basis to charge Zimmerman with a federal hate crime, Weinstein said, since prosecutors would have to show that he shot and killed Martin primarily because of the teen's race. Nothing in the state trial suggested it was a racially motivated crime, he said.

"Under the law, there is no basis for them to file any charges," Weinstein said about the Department of Justice.

Under public pressure, he added, the Justice Department may send lawyers to Florida to investigate the case so they can write a report that says "there was nothing there."

"That may satisfy people," Weinstein said.

------

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP .

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