[SeMissourian.com] Fog/Mist ~ 43°F  
River stage: 28.96 ft. Rising
Monday, Nov. 30, 2015

Second-degree murder charge in Trayvon Martin case

Thursday, April 12, 2012

FILE - This recent but undated file photo taken from the Orlando Sentinel's website shows George Zimmerman, according to the paper. Angela Corey, the special prosecutor in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman, said Monday, April 9, 2012, she continues to investigate the case and will not involve a grand jury set to meet Tuesday.
(AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, File)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The neighborhood watch volunteer who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was arrested and charged with second-degree murder Wednesday after months of mounting tensions and protests across the country.

George Zimmerman, 28, could get up to life in prison if convicted in the slaying of the unarmed black teenager.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey announced the charges but would not discuss how she arrived at them or disclose other details of her investigation, saying: "That's why we try cases in court."

Second-degree murder is typically brought in cases when there is a fight or other confrontation that results in death and but does involve a premeditated plan to kill.

Corey would not disclose Zimmerman's whereabouts for his safety but said that he will be in court within 24 hours.

Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara, said: "I'm expecting a lot of work and hopefully justice in the end."

Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, has asserted since the Feb. 26 killing in Sanford that he shot in self-defense after the teenager attacked him. Martin's family argued Zimmerman was the aggressor.

The shooting brought demands from black leaders for his arrest and set off a furious nationwide debate over race and self-defense that reached all the way to the White House.

Corey said the decision to bring charges was based on the facts and the law, declaring: "We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition."

One of the biggest hurdles to Zimmerman's arrest over the past month was Florida's "stand your ground" law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger. The lack of an arrest had sparked outrage and rallies for justice in the Orlando suburb and across the country.

On Tuesday, Zimmerman's lawyers announced they were withdrawing from the case because they hadn't heard from him since Sunday and didn't know where he was. They portrayed his mental state as fragile.

"He is largely alone. You might even say he is emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case," said one of the lawyers, Hal Uhrig.

The case has drawn the interest of the highest levels of the Obama administration, with the Justice Department's civil rights division opening its own investigation.

Tensions have risen in recent days in Sanford. Someone shot up an unoccupied police car Tuesday as it sat outside the neighborhood where Martin was killed. And a demonstration by college students closed the town's police station Monday.

Six weeks ago, Martin was returning to the home of his father's fiancee from a convenience store when Zimmerman started following him. Zimmerman told police dispatchers he looked suspicious. At some point, the two got into a fight and Zimmerman used his gun.

Zimmerman told police Martin attacked him after he had given up chasing the teenager and was returning to his truck. He told detectives that Martin knocked him to the ground and began slamming his head on the sidewalk. Zimmerman's father said that Martin threatened to kill his son and that Zimmerman suffered a broken nose.

A video taken about 40 minutes after the shooting as Zimmerman arrived at the Sanford police station showed him walking unassisted without difficulty. There were no plainly visible bandages or blood on his clothing, but Zimmerman may have had a small wound on the back of his head.

The shooting ignited resentment toward the police department, and Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped down to let passions cool.

Civil rights groups and others have held rallies around the country, saying the shooting was unjustified. Many of the protesters wore the same type of hooded sweatshirt that Martin had on that day, suggesting his appearance and race had something to do with his killing.

President Barack Obama injected himself into the debate, urging Americans to "do some soul-searching." `'If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Obama said March 23.

The local prosecutor disqualified himself from the case, and Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey, the prosecutor for Jacksonville, to take it over.

Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Fla.

Fact Check
See inaccurate information in this story?

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on semissourian.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

you must be one of those that are seeing it as a hate crime then huh?? every american should have a right to a fair trial, instead he was labeled from the beginning, and YOU cadillacman im sure dont even know the story or his side, but yet your gonna side with everyone else because thats the trend on cases like this, its sickening to know people out there do this stuff, and all for publicity and attention....period. that kid was nothing but trouble and self defense comes in many forms

-- Posted by judgment82 on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 3:15 PM

Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after following the teenager in a Sanford, Fla., a gated community outside Orlando on Feb. 26. He said he was returning to his truck when Martin attacked him and that he shot the unarmed teen during the fight. He wasn't arrested partly because of Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force.

if thats the law, then thats the law

-- Posted by judgment82 on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 3:17 PM

he's still gonna get his *** whupped when he gets to jail, even if he does turn himself in!

*i think the word your looking for is -whipped-

-- Posted by judgment82 on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 3:26 PM

It's a shame someone died. But I'd be willing to bet the kid wasn't there just to do homework with a study group from school.

If Zimmerman's story is true, he had every right to shoot.

And yes cadillacman you're right, "all that was wanted was equal justice". However, I believe it's already been served and if Zimmerman is given a fair and impartial trial, he'll be vindicated.

Thinking Martin's death was unjustified just because he was black is just as racist as thinking it was justified - just because he was black.

-- Posted by malan on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 3:51 PM

But I'd be willing to bet the kid wasn't there just to do homework with a study group from school.

What I meant by that comment is that Martin had on a hooded sweatshirt and took off running when approached, instead of being open and honest about his actions.

-- Posted by malan on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 4:18 PM

This is nothing more than a manufactured distraction and one that I wish would just go away. It's never going to please everyone no matter what happens. Someone's always going to whine and cry about something.... oh, wait... WELCOME TO AMERICA... Land of the free and home to the whining babies!!!

-- Posted by Hot Dog on Wed, Apr 11, 2012, at 5:30 PM

Caddy: How about charging the Black Panter Party for attempting to incite a riot and placing a bounty on Zimmerman by passing out fliers "Wanted Dead or Alive" posted on them. I bet you have no comment on that do you? I doubt we will ever see any prosecution on this radical group.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Thu, Apr 12, 2012, at 6:51 AM

amen swampeastmissouri i agree 100%

-- Posted by judgment82 on Thu, Apr 12, 2012, at 7:54 AM

The shooter was told by the 911 dispatcher not to follow the dude. He did it anyway. He and he alone has created the problem for himself, not the press, and not the dead kid. The Florida law does not say you can go following someone around in the dark and shoot them if they challenge you. It could well be that the "stand your ground" law was actually on the side of the kid in this.

-- Posted by Dr. Nemo on Thu, Apr 12, 2012, at 8:42 AM

How does following a suspicious person on a public street gives this kid a right to attack someone?

Mr. Zimmerman was put in jeopardy when attacked. Now he is in jeopardy by the courts.

Prosecutor's discretion made the Clintons royalty in Arkansas and nobody said boo about his or her shenanigans. This is a miscarriage to charge this guy and totally media and racially driven.

-- Posted by yy4me on Thu, Apr 12, 2012, at 9:47 AM

yy4me read the 911 transcripts. He was told by authorities to back off. He disobeyed. And we don't know much more than that, including who attacked who.

-- Posted by Dr. Nemo on Thu, Apr 12, 2012, at 10:05 AM

His story and injuries were consistent. He has not wavered in his account. It is a prosecutor's job to charge if in his judgement there was a crime committed. The original prosecutor saw no evidence that Zimmerman was dishonest in his account. This prosecutor has made a political judgement that has put Zimmerman in jeopardy unnecessarily.

-- Posted by yy4me on Thu, Apr 12, 2012, at 10:21 AM

Murder? Time will tell as arguments from both sides play out in court. Again, the news media has done an absolute terrible job of even attempting to report the facts of this case. They are more inclined to follow the lead of Sharpton, Jackson, Lee, and some others in this country, who are always eager to rant and rave about what they believe to be a "race killing". The problem with them is that they are always selective in just what they rant and rave about! Perhaps they, and others who have their pre-conceived notions that this is in fact a "race killing" should familiarize themselves with the Channon Christian-Christopher Newsom case from Knoxville, Tennessee and the Tyrone Woodfork case from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ever hear about these cases through the national media?

-- Posted by arrestthem on Thu, Apr 12, 2012, at 10:24 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: