(a) In General.— (1) Offenses involving actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin.— Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person—
(B) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if—
(ii) the offense includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.
In other words, if Zimmerman killed Martin because of his race, then he can be prosecuted under this section.
There haven't been too many prosecutions under Section 249. The internet reveals these two cases:
In May 2011, a man in Arkansas pled guilty under the Act to running a car containing five Hispanic men off the road. As a result, he became the first person ever convicted under the Act. A second man involved in the same incident was later convicted under the Act but has asked for a new trial.These cases seem much clearer cut than Zimmerman's for a federal prosecution. I'm not a prosecutor, but it seems to me that the Stand Your Ground defense would be much easier to get over for the State than attempting to prove intent under the Hate Crimes Act. Based on the 911 call and the other publicly known facts, I'm not sure how this is a Stand Your Ground case...
In August 2011, one man in New Mexico pled guilty to branding a swastika into the arm of a developmentally disabled man of Navajo descent. A second man entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime. The two men were accused of branding the victim, shaving a swastika into his head, and writing the words "white power" and the acronym "KKK" on his body. A third man in June 2011, entered a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit a federal hate crime. All three men were charged under the Act in December of 2010.
There have been two local Stand Your Ground/Self Defense cases in the news recently. The Herald covered this one yesterday and the O'Donnells just got a hung jury in Key West on this case where a young man stabbed someone during Fantasy Fest.
Okay, you guys are probably ready for me to get back to Paris Hilton....