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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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national lead

July 15th, 2013
07:27 PM ET

Despite outrage, federal charges uncertain in Zimmerman case

Washington (CNN) - In the emotional aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing last year, Attorney General Eric Holder signaled the unlikelihood of filing federal hate crimes charges against admitted shooter George Zimmerman.

"For a federal hate crime, we have to prove the highest standard in the law," Holder said in April 2012, 45 days after Zimmerman shot the African American teenager in what was depicted by civil rights groups as a racially motivated killing.

In words that now sound prescient, Holder described to reporters that day how "something that was reckless, that was negligent does not meet that standard."

"We have to show that there was specific intent to do the crime with requisite state of mind," he said.

Zimmerman's acquittal of state murder and manslaughter charges on Saturday showed the Florida jury rejected that he intended to kill Martin for any reason, including the racial motivation necessary for federal charges that he violated Martin's civil rights.

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