Trayvon Martin shooter charged with second-degree murder

April 12th, 2012 - 9:10 pm ICT by BNO News  

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA (BNO NEWS) — Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder on late Wednesday, prosecutors said.

Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, who was appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott last month to re-examine the case after a public outcry over the decision to not immediately arrest Zimmerman, announced the charge at a news conference in Jacksonville on Wednesday evening. “I can tell you we did not come tot his decision lightly,” she said.

Zimmerman, 28, has claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot 17-year-old Trayvon in Sanford on February 26. The neighborhood watch volunteer had told a 911 operator that Trayvon was acting suspiciously and, despite being told to stay in his vehicle, got out of his SUV after which a confrontation ensued. Zimmerman claims he was being attacked by Trayvon when he fired the shot.

The shooting prompted allegations that Zimmerman, who is half Hispanic, was motivated by racism, a claim which has been denied by Zimmerman’s relatives, friends and supporters who say he has been unfairly vilified by the media. The investigation has also been complicated by Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are in danger of being killed or suffering serious injuries.

“Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by pressure or petition. We prosecute based on the relevant facts of each case and on the laws of the state of Florida,” Corey said during Wednesday’s press conference. “Today, we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with Murder in the Second Degree. A capias has been issued for his arrest.”

Corey confirmed Zimmerman had turned himself in and is in custody somewhere in Florida, although she refused to say where.

If convicted of second degree murder, a murder that is not premeditated or planned in advance, Zimmerman could face a prison sentence of up to 25 years to life. Zimmerman’s new attorney, Mark O’Mara, said during a later news conference in Orlando that his client will plead not guilty.

“I think he’s troubled by the fact that the state decided to charge him,” O’Mara said, when asked by reporters how Zimmerman reacted to the charge and arrest. “I think anyone who would be charged with second-degree murder would be scared. So yes, certainly he is frightened.”

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