Zimmerman Charged in Trayvon Martin Shooting [Updated]
[UPDATED Wednesday April 11| 2:54 p.m. PST: George Zimmerman is in custody and will be charged with second-degree murder in the deadly shooting of Trayvon Martin.]
Angela Corey, who was appointed to look into the case by Florida Gov. Rick Scott on March 23, publicly announced the charges Wednesday afternoon.
Zimmerman will plead not guilty to the charges.
Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law" is part of the reason why Zimmerman's arrest was delayed. Under the law, a person has the freedom to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger.
In Florida, a second-degree murder charge could result in a maximum sentence of life in prison. A second-degree murder charge usually come as a result of a fight that ends in a fatality, with no premeditation to kill someone.
This development comes right on the heels of Zimmerman’s attorneys, Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner, announcement that they have not been in contact with Zimmerman for some time and are no longer representing him.
According to Uhrig and Sonner, Zimmerman attempted to contact Corey without their knowledge, and spoke off-the-record with Fox News host Sean Hannity without their consent. They suggested that the pressure of the case has pushed Zimmerman “over the edge.”
Zimmerman posted on his website TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com on April 9 that “as a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family, and ultimately my entire life.”
His website allows supporters to donate to help fund his legal costs and living expenses.
Zimmerman became the subject of national attention after he shot and killed 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Florida on February 26, while on neighborhood watch.
Martin, who was visiting his father while on suspension from school, was walking back from a convenience store where he purchased Skittles and an iced tea when he was shot by Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was taken into custody but soon released with no official charges filed. He claims that he shot Martin in self-defense under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Act.
Bruises and a broken nose on Zimmerman, as well as screams overheard on a neighbor’s disturbance call indicate that there was a confrontation between the two, though the instigator is unknown.
The lack of an arrest in Martin’s case has become the source of national controversy, prompting rallies in cities all across the country.
A “Million Hoodie March” occurred in New York City, where protesters gathered wearing t-shirts and carrying signs saying “I am Trayvon Martin” to mock Zimmerman’s allegation that Martin was suspicious because of his clothing.
The racial factor has added heat to the debate, as some believe that the Peruvian-American Zimmerman attacked Martin because he was black.
President Barack Obama issued a statement supporting the investigation saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin.”
The city of Sanford has become divided by the case, and earlier in the week, six shots were fired into an empty police cruiser in the neighborhood where Martin was killed.
Sanford mayor Jeff Triplet said that the city has become a “kindling box” and that after the announcement of charges this afternoon he is going to “plan for the worst but hope for the best.”
Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin are looking forward to Corey’s announcement this afternoon, as Tracy said at a news conference during a meeting of the National Action Network in Washington, “It’s 44 days later, and George Zimmerman is still walking free. It’s 44 days later and my son is still in a mausoleum.”
The U.S. Justice Department is also carrying out an investigation into the case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.