Justice Department places 'hold' on Trayvon Martin evidence
Action indicates investigation over whether federal civil rights charges will be filed against Zimmerman
The U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the Sanford, Florida police department to hold all the evidence from George Zimmerman's second-degree murder trial, including Zimmerman's volunteer's gun. While exonerated in the murder of teenager Trayvon Martin, the action indicates that Zimmerman may be returning to the courtroom shortly.
It's a clear sign that the criminal section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is investigating Zimmerman to determine if federal civil rights charges should be filed. There is a constitutional protection against double jeopardy after a defendant has been found "not guilty" in a state or local jurisdiction.
If Zimmerman returns to federal court, he would be charged with violating Trayvon Martin's civil rights - and not causing his death.
Police had confirmed the evidence "hold," meaning that everything related to the trial -- from Zimmerman's gun to the Skittles and Arizona-brand watermelon fruit juice cocktail Martin had on his person during the attack will remain in the hands of law enforcement.
The department did not immediately respond to questions about whether it will take custody of the evidence, or when that might occur.
Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed this week during the NAACP's annual convention that the Justice Department still has an open investigation into Zimmerman's actions on Feb. 26, 2012.
"I am concerned about this case," Holder told the assembled black civil rights activists, "and as we confirmed last spring, the Justice Department has an open investigation into it.
"While that inquiry is ongoing, I can promise that the Department of Justice will consider all available information before determining what action to take."
In related news HBO host Bill Maher drew boos from audience members during a taping of "The Late Show With David Letterman" TV program by saying that "The Florida state law is that he can get his gun back. I say that if he gets a gun, Casey Anthony gets a baby."
Anthony was acquitted in 2011, also in Florida, of killing her two-year-old daughter in 2008.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lordís invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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