Murder charge in Trayvon Martin case

Official: George Zimmerman in custody

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 5:53 PM
Last updated 10:30 PM
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Amid furious public pressure to make an arrest in the killing of Trayvon Martin, the special prosecutor on the case went for the maximum Wednesday, bringing a second-degree murder charge against the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed black teenager.

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George Zimmerman (right; shown in most recent mug shot) has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin (left), an unarmed black teenager shot by the neighborhood watch volunteer. 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.
George Zimmerman (right; shown in most recent mug shot) has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin (left), an unarmed black teenager shot by the neighborhood watch volunteer. 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.

George Zimmerman, 28, was jailed in Sanford — the site of the shooting Feb. 26 that set off a nationwide debate over racial profiling and self-defense — on charges that carry a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum sentence that could put him in prison for life.

In announcing the arrest, prosecutor Angela Corey would not discuss how she reconciled the conflicting accounts of what happened or explain how she arrived at the charges, saying too much information had been made public already. But she made it clear she was not influenced by the uproar over the past six weeks.

"We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts on any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida," Corey said.

Martin's parents, who were in Washington when the announcement came, expressed relief over the decision to prosecute the killer of their 17-year-old son.

"The question I would really like to ask him is, if he could look into Trayvon's eyes and see how innocent he was, would he have then pulled the trigger? Or would he have just let him go on home?" said his father, Tracy Martin.

Many legal experts had expected the prosecutor to opt for the lesser charge of manslaughter, which usually carries 15 years behind bars and covers reckless or negligent killings, rather than second-degree murder, which involves a killing that results from a "depraved" disregard for human life.

The most severe homicide charge, first-degree murder, is subject to the death penalty in Florida and requires premeditation — something that all sides agreed was not present in this case.

"I predicted manslaughter, so I'm a little surprised," said Michael Seigel, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at the University of Florida. "But she has more facts than I do."

Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara, said Zimmerman will plead not guilty and will invoke Florida's powerful "stand your ground" law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger.

The lawyer asked that people not jump to conclusions about his client's guilt and said he is "hoping that the community will calm down" now that charges have been filed.

"I'm expecting a lot of work and hopefully justice in the end," O'Mara said.

Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother Hispanic, turned himself in earlier in the day and will make a court appearance as early as Thursday, when his lawyer plans to ask for bail.

Corey's decision followed an extraordinary 45-day campaign by Martin's parents to have Zimmerman arrested despite his claim that he shot in self-defense. They were joined by civil rights activists such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as well as many politicians and supporters in Sanford and cities across the nation.

Protesters wore hooded sweatshirts like the one Martin had on. And the debate reached all the way to the White House, where President Barack Obama observed last month: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."

The confrontation took place in a gated community where Martin was staying with his father and his father's fiancée. Martin was walking back in the rain from a convenience store when Zimmerman spotted him and called 911. He followed Martin despite being told not to by a police dispatcher, and the two got into a struggle.

Zimmerman told police Martin punched him in the nose, knocking him down, and then began banging Zimmerman's head on the sidewalk. Zimmerman claimed he shot Martin in fear for his life.

A judge could dismiss the charge based on "stand your ground," legal experts said. But not if prosecutors can show Zimmerman was to blame.

"If you're the aggressor, you're not protected by this law," said Carey Haughwout, public defender in Palm Beach County.

Zimmerman's brother Robert Zimmerman told CNN on Wednesday night: "Our brother literally had to save his life by taking a life. And that's a situation nobody wants to be in, ever."

On Tuesday, Zimmerman's former lawyers portrayed him as erratic and in precarious mental condition. O'Mara, who signed on after Zimmerman's previous attorneys withdrew, said that Zimmerman seemed to be in a good state of mind but that the pressure had weighed mightily on him.

"He is troubled by everything that has happened. I cannot imagine living in George Zimmerman's shoes for the past number of weeks. Because he has been at the focus of a lot of anger, and maybe confusion and maybe some hatred, and that has to be difficult," the attorney said.

O'Mara also said the difficult case is compounded by the heavy media attention, which might make it hard to seat an impartial jury. Corey, similarly, complained: "So much information got released on this case that never should have been released. We have to protect this prosecution and this investigation for Trayvon, for George Zimmerman."

Corey, the prosecutor in Jacksonville, was appointed to handle the case by Republican Gov. Rick Scott after the local prosecutor disqualified himself. She has tried hundreds of homicide cases and is known for tough tactics aimed at locking up criminals for a long time and making it difficult to negotiate light plea bargains.

The U.S. Justice Department's civil rights division is conducting its own investigation. But federal authorities typically wait until a state prosecution is complete before deciding how to proceed.

Tensions had risen in recent days in Sanford, a town of 50,000 outside Orlando. Someone shot up an unoccupied police car Tuesday as it sat outside the neighborhood where Martin was killed. But as the hour of the prosecutor's announcement neared, the Martin family and their lawyer pleaded for calm.

Outside Sanford City Hall, Stacy Davis, a black woman, said she was glad to see Zimmerman under arrest.

"It's not a black or white thing for me. It's a right or wrong thing. He needed to be arrested," she said. "I'm happy because maybe that boy can get some rest."

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iLove
626
Points
iLove 04/11/12 - 06:01 pm
7
3
Do you guys think a jury will
Unpublished

Do you guys think a jury will convict him? I don't.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 04/11/12 - 06:07 pm
13
11
Do you really think this guy

Do you really think this guy will get a fair trial? I don't think so. Too much pressure from higher ups and the masses without all the evidence presented. Now that they have the arrest that they've been screaming for, I sincerely hope that he is found not guilty and all of this nonsense can stop. But then again, I don't think they'll be happy if the evidence points to not guilty....they'll just want blood no matter if he's innocent or guilty.

happychimer
16778
Points
happychimer 04/11/12 - 06:10 pm
11
4
ICL so even if he is guilty

ICL so even if he is guilty you hope he is found not guilty. Excuse me, but this case is not nonsense. A human life was taken.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 04/11/12 - 06:11 pm
6
5
they, they'll...who are
Unpublished

they, they'll...who are "they"

MANY people have spoken, marched, and DEMANDED JUSTICE. Thats all "they" are asking for. Why so long on an arrest? Why all the "spin"? Was the evidence collected in a timley manner, considerind the weather conditions that night? Were ALL parties involved interviewed in a timely manner?

WHY DID Z-MAN FOLLOW TRAYVON MARTIN?

Haki
31
Points
Haki 04/11/12 - 06:33 pm
4
1
Within a court of law.

Within a court of law.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 04/11/12 - 06:34 pm
4
0
2nd degree homicide an

2nd degree homicide an interesting charge. I thought for sure the charge would manslaughter.

specsta
6355
Points
specsta 04/11/12 - 06:43 pm
6
10
Thank God they finally

Thank God they finally arrested and charged Zimmerman with Trayvon's murder. Maybe justice will prevail.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/11/12 - 06:59 pm
11
6
ICL says: "Now that they
Unpublished

ICL says: "Now that they have the arrest that they've been screaming for, I sincerely hope that he is found not guilty and all of this nonsense can stop."

I agree iLove. Who is "they?" And, are you not concerned with justice and right and wrong, ICL?? Again, your moniker is so entirely and consistently inconsistent with your comments. I would be humiliated if I were you.
Weren't you one of those who kept saying...just wait until all the facts are in in this case....just wait until the prosecution weighs all the evidence??

jackragg
0
Points
jackragg 04/11/12 - 07:09 pm
8
5
What if the races were

What if the races were reversed? What would happen then? Would there be any outrage? Protests?
Interesting article here. http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/03/what_if_trayvon_had_been_white_an...

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 04/11/12 - 07:21 pm
7
3
There's no way to tell what

There's no way to tell what the verdict will be; there is a chance there may be at least one person selected for jury duty who will both listen to the evidence and ignore the vocal demand by the 'community' --including reverends flown in for rabble-rousing-- for a lynching and vote the actual FACTS of the case. Perhaps.

Regardless of the verdict, here's a good bet: The good citizens and visitors (before they catch their planes to the next 'act of white terror') will riot and loot. A lot of them will look like Obama's kid.

raul
4505
Points
raul 04/11/12 - 07:56 pm
10
0
I don't think the prosecution

I don't think the prosecution will prevail on a charge on 2nd degree murder which requires proving malice intent. They would have a better chance of proving voluntary manslaughter. Glad I won't be on the jury if it goes to trial.

walrus4ever
354
Points
walrus4ever 04/11/12 - 08:00 pm
5
6
Trial by mob rule. Our new

Trial by mob rule. Our new justice system. They were both wrong. Zimmerman is "white". Zimmerman's goose is cooked.

Sweet son
10031
Points
Sweet son 04/11/12 - 08:04 pm
10
9
The whole thing makes me want

The whole thing makes me want to puke when Zimmerman was already convicted in the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton court of racial justice. If someone is beating the hell out of me and I have a weapon I would shoot too. Now that the Jackson/Sharpton followers have there man in jail they will still cry unless there is a guilty verdict. I am like raul, I would not want to be on that jury because there is no way to win if not guilty is found when the evidence is presented.

noamsain
50
Points
noamsain 04/11/12 - 08:37 pm
9
1
Why is the Chronicle still

Why is the Chronicle still running pictures of this unfortunate young man as a kid? That photo was when adult(17) was 12! Should he have been shot? No....Should Zimmerman just let the police handle it and not get out and confront? Yes? But please, quit helping with the agenda to cause a riot by portraying him as a little kid....he was no longer a kid....

Zimmerman will be found guilty...if not, there will be riots...which is what the media wants to happen so it will take the focus of off the poor economy and high unemployment....

noamsain
50
Points
noamsain 04/11/12 - 08:42 pm
12
6
jackragg..Zimmerman is

jackragg..Zimmerman is hispanic....do we call Obummer white? Why not? One of his parents was white, but I have never heard him called white..so why is Zimmerman who obviously looks Latino or Hispanic called white?

Because the race baiters want a riot....they don't march or riot over black on black crime...shouldn't they be here for that poor woman who was raped in front of her kids last week by the 2 black youth?

noamsain
50
Points
noamsain 04/11/12 - 08:47 pm
11
2
Why does the Chronicle post

Why does the Chronicle post the picture of T.M. when he was a kid? He was 17, and in Georgia, would be treated like an adult for crimes, like the weed residue that caused him to be suspended from school...

Why don't you show the more accurate photos of him that many news sources have discovered from his tweeter page?

Was it wrong that he was shot? I believe that it was, because Zimmerman should have backed off after he reported somone looking suspicious...

But to continue to show outdated photos to gain sympathy is poor jounalism and makes you look like the other mainstream who have been caught editing to make their agenda of racism work.

debbiep38
421
Points
debbiep38 04/11/12 - 08:52 pm
0
0
Thank God for murder and
Unpublished

Thank God for murder and justice, Specsta.

debbiep38
421
Points
debbiep38 04/11/12 - 08:52 pm
0
0
Thank God for murder and
Unpublished

Thank God for murder and justice, Specsta.

jackragg
0
Points
jackragg 04/11/12 - 08:52 pm
5
0
Noamsain.. I don't get the

Noamsain.. I don't get the whole labeling thing myself. People are people to me. In my opinion Zimmerman made a string of bad decisions. That doesn't make him a racist. Just someone who used horrible judgement.

jackragg
0
Points
jackragg 04/11/12 - 09:01 pm
5
1
And for those of you speaking

And for those of you speaking of justice, you are literally being prejudice. None of us were there. We don't know what happened. Just because the media reports something doesn't make it into a fact. God I hope none of you are ever on a jury.

From Merriam-Webster;
Prejudice: preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prejudice

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/11/12 - 09:04 pm
3
0
jackragg...the zimmerman v.
Unpublished

jackragg...the zimmerman v. Martin case is simply a microcasm of the larger mindsets and consequences of larger societal attitudes. Just look at the comments here!! Prosecution and even conviction of Zimmerman is not going to change that...the pathology will persist.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 04/11/12 - 09:04 pm
7
3
happy, read my comment again.

happy, read my comment again. I DID NOT say if he is guilty, I hope he is found not guilty.

happychimer
16778
Points
happychimer 04/11/12 - 09:09 pm
7
4
You said you hope he is found

You said you hope he is found not guilty and then all this nonsense can stop. that is a paraphrase. Here is exactly what you said.- Now that they have the arrest that they've been screaming for, I sincerely hope that he is found not guilty and all of this nonsense can stop.

InChristLove
22459
Points
InChristLove 04/11/12 - 09:10 pm
7
6
iLove "WHY DID Z-MAN FOLLOW

iLove "WHY DID Z-MAN FOLLOW TRAYVON MARTIN?"

It is known that Z-man (as you call him) went looking to see where Trayvon went after he ran away. It has been stated that he was returning to his vehicle (stopped searching) when he was confronted by Trayvon. Whether this statement is true or not should be decided based on the facts in the case.....NOT by your opinon

And the "they" I'm referring to is all the people protesting in the streets demanding an arrest BEFORE all the facts have been investigated. Now that Zimmerman has been arrested....lets see what else they can protest and complain about. Why don't they let the judical system take it's time to get all the facts in this case and then let a jury decide. So much nonsense has gone on in the media and public that I seriously doubt he can get a fair trial.

If he is guilty, I hope it's based on facts. If he's innoncent, his life will never be the same and will always worry about someone taking him out because they will still think he is guilty.

happychimer
16778
Points
happychimer 04/11/12 - 09:21 pm
7
7
you were one of those

you were one of those screaming wait for the wheels of justice. Now that those wheels are rolling, you sincerely hope he is found not guilty. What if he is guilty? to you it does not matter. You want him found not guilty so all this nonsense can stop. this case is not nonsense. A life was taken. Now let the wheels of justice roll. A jury will decide.

jackragg
0
Points
jackragg 04/11/12 - 09:15 pm
8
4
Palmetto.. It can be summed

Palmetto.. It can be summed up like this. If Zimmerman was Chinese and Martin was Pakistani, nobody would care. This wouldn't even be in the news. Why is it in the news? To sell advertising. What does it do for society? Divides us. What ever happened to responsible journalism?

happychimer
16778
Points
happychimer 04/11/12 - 09:18 pm
2
2
There is evidence that none

There is evidence that none of us will know about till the trial. We don't know what all is known and what was found. I will be following this case.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/11/12 - 09:31 pm
5
1
we are already divided,
Unpublished

we are already divided, jackragg, by race. Isn't that just silly? Skin color??? Jounralism has not been resposible for a long time...why do you pick on this instance to invoke the "irresponsible journalism" plea?

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/11/12 - 09:36 pm
6
3
ICL says, " I'm referring to
Unpublished

ICL says, " I'm referring to is all the people protesting in the streets demanding an arrest BEFORE all the facts have been investigated. Now that Zimmerman has been arrested....lets see what else they can protest and complain about. "

Apparently, they left someone FREE who should have been or at least could have been charged with secondary murder from the beginning. Why are you trampling over people's rights to protest? This is America, ICL, and not subject to your censorship.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 04/11/12 - 10:03 pm
3
2
Holy cow, retired army. You
Unpublished

Holy cow, retired army. You hit it.

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