Nightly News   |  July 15, 2013

Federal prosecution ‘unlikely’ in Zimmerman case

The Justice Department will take a fresh look at what federal investigators learned about the shooting and at the evidence gathered for the George Zimmerman trial. But proving intent is very difficult. The government has gotten convictions under the Hate Crimes law in cases where there has been strong evidence showing racial motivation. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> more now on this notion of federal charges potentially against george zimmerman. and in light of the trial just concluded, what those charges could be. our justice correspondent, pete williams , here with us in our d.c. newsroom with more on this presumably, we are talking about something in the category of a hate crime and isn't that notoriously hard to prove?

>> very hard to prove. and the short history that that law has been on the books, the justice department has pledged to look at what the fbi learned about the shooting and what the fbi gathered during the trial it would be surprise tuck federal brought a criminal case . the most likely law thank could be invoked is the relatively new one, the federal hate crime statute passed four years ago, make tag federal crime to cause bodily injury to someone because of the victim's actual or perceived race. so the government would have to try to convince a jury that trayvon martin was shot because of his ray not because of self-defense or some other motive. several former civil rights prosecutors today said it wouldn't be enough, for example, for the justice department to claim that george zimmerman started following trayvon martin because of his race. proving intent, these experts say, is very difficult when t.e when the government has got conviction under the hate crimes law, there has usually been other strong evidence showing racial motivation. unless the justice department can come up with something more, a federal case here seems very unlikely.

>> pete williams on the other front of this. thanks, pete.