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Grand Jury to Investigate Florida Teen's Death

A grand jury will hear evidence in the fatal shooting of a Floriday teen.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI will investigate the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Florida teenager who was shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer in February.

The U.S. Justice Department launched the investigation after several demonstrations called for the prosecution of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon.

The case has received national attention and prominent civil rights activist Al Sharpton and radio host Michael Baisden plan to lead a rally in Sanford, Florida on Thursday. Several students and protesters have held rallies, demanding Zimmerman's arrest.

Norman R. Wolfinger, the state attorney for Brevard and Seminole Counties, released a statement saying that "I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin," adding "I respectfully request that the public remain patient as this process continues forward."

Trayvon was walking to his father's girlfriend's home in Sanford, Florida when he was shot. George Zimmerman told police that he shot Trayvon in self-defense, after the two got into a fight and Mr. Zimmerman fell to the ground.

The 911 tapes were released last week, after persistence from Trayvon's family and the public. Mr. Zimmerman had called 911 to report a suspicious person. The 911 dispatcher instructed Mr. Zimmerman to stay in his vehicle and wait for police, advice he refused to take. Instead, he exited his vehicle and pursued Trayvon, who started running. A faint voice can be heard crying and pleading for help in the background, but it is unclear whether the voice belongs to Mr. Zimmerman or Trayvon.

Members of the Sanford community do not understand how the neighborhood watch captain could claim self-defense against an unarmed person. The details of the case have led some people to believe that Mr. Zimmerman has yet to be arrested because of a race issue.

In an attempt to ease tensions in the area, The Justice Department dispatched members of its Community Relations Service to Sanford.

The Justice Department will do a "thorough and independent review of all the evidence and take appropriate action at the conclusion of the investigation," according to Justice Department spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa. Both the Civil Rights Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation would investigate the teen's death.

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