George Zimmerman, who says he killed unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in self defense, has been arrested and will face a charge of second-degree murder, says State Attorney Angela Corey, the special prosecutor investigating Martin’s death.
Corey said that Zimmerman turned himself in to the authorities Wednesday.
The arrest and charges come more than six weeks after Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot Martin, an African-American who was 17 when he died. Zimmerman, 28, was not jailed or charged after the Feb. 26 shooting. Since then, the case has become a cause of both outrage and contention.
In addition to sparking a national discussion about race, the Trayvon Martin case has also brought new scrutiny to states that have a “stand your ground” law, which expands the circumstances under which people can make a claim of self defense.
The charge of second-degree murder is often made in cases in which prosecutors believe that a killing was intentional, but not premeditated.
On Monday, Corey announced that she would not be taking the case to a grand jury this week — a sign that many interpreted as meaning that Zimmerman would not be facing a charge of first-degree murder. As a state attorney, Corey is an elected official in Florida. She announced the charges in her home district of Jacksonville, which is more than 100 mile north of Sanford.
Zimmerman has not made any public appearances since the shooting; his whereabouts have been the subject of much speculation.
News of Zimmerman’s arrest comes one day after his attorneys, Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig, announced that they would no longer be representing him.
As we reported earlier today, Martin’s parents said they had not confirmed any new developments as of early Wednesday afternoon.
“I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, justice will be served” in the case, Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told the AP.
Hours before Corey’s announcement, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a statement, in which he urged “all Florida citizens to allow our justice system to reach an appropriate conclusion in this case.”
And civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke with Martin’s parents Wednesday at an event held by his National Action Network group in Washington, D.C., called for their supporters to remain peaceful as the investigation continues.
“We are not in the business of revenge. We are in the business of justice,” Sharpton said, reports The Orlando Sentinel. “We must make the justice system work. Otherwise the movement is for nothing. To go outside the justice system is to achieve nothing.”
“Trayvon’s name must not be tarnished,” Sharpton said.