The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may soon charge George Zimmerman with a hate crime over the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, according to news reports.


WFTV recently learned that the FBI is considering charging the former neighborhood watchmen with a hate crime, which could be punished with the death penalty if murder is involved.

The report said that the FBI was in the process of questioning witnesses from the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community where the February shooting occurred.

"What the government would have to prove is that Mr. Zimmerman acted out of hatred toward African-Americans," WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer explained. "That's why he came into contact with him. That's why he shot and killed him."

"Mr. Zimmerman could be punished by up to life in prison or even the death penalty," Sheaffer added.

FBI officials told ABC News that the "hammer won't be dropped" on Zimmerman anytime soon.

Zimmerman admitted to the February killing of Martin, but has pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder. He is scheduled to next appear in court on August 8.

Watch this video from WFTV, broadcast May 14, 2012.