Zimmerman Charged With 2nd-degree Murder
On Wednesday, April 11, 2012, Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced that George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed unarmed Trayvon Martin, was charged with second-degree murder. During the press conference in Jacksonville, Florida, she said Zimmerman turned himself in and was being held in somewhere in the state.
If convicted, he may face life in prison.
17 Year-Old Florida Boy Shot and Killed by Neighborhood Watchman
Few cases have captured such widespread attention as the recent killing of 17 year old Florida high school student Trayvon Martin. On February 26th, George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood captain, shot and killed Trayvon Martin, who was on his way home from a convenience store with Skittles and a bottle of iced tea.
On the night of the killing, George Zimmerman was reportedly patrolling a neighborhood as self-appointed neighborhood watchman. Zimmerman notices Trayvon Martin walking in the neighborhood and began following him. George Zimmerman called police and reported the situation. The 911 operator specifically told Zimmerman to stop following Trayvon, but he pursued him anyway. Shortly thereafter, several eyewitnesses called 911 and reported that they a scuffle going on, then someone cried for help, then a gunshot was heard.
When the Sanford police arrived on the scene, they found Zimmerman armed with a handgun, standing over Martin’s body. Zimmerman reportedly had a bloody nose and a wound on the back of his head. Trayvon was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene.
When questioned by the Sanford police at the scene, George told police that he shot Martin in self defense. Florida has a Stand Your Ground law that says a person may use force in self-defense when they their life may be in danger.
The police department did not arrest Zimmerman, nor did they test him for drugs or alcohol use.
The lead homicide detective on the case, Chris Serino, said that he didn’t believe Zimmerman’s testimony and recommended that he be arrested for manslaughter. But the State Attorney’s office, headed by Norman Wolfinger, instructed him not to press charges because there wasn’t enough evidence to lead to a conviction. The Sanford police Chief, Billy Lee, says that there is no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s claim of self defense. The police chief has since stepped down.
Despite a nationwide public outcry, petitions, and public protests, Zimmerman has yet to be arrested. Leading the protests, Trayvon’s parents have demanded that an arrest be made and the 911 tapes to be released.
The U.S. Justice Department has launched an investigation into the case. In addition, a grand jury will review the evidence in the case.