Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey announced Wednesday she has charged neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
At an evening press conference, Corey said Zimmerman, 28, was already in custody.
“It seems like an enormous swing to be able go from not feeling you have enough evidence to arrest him, to charging him with essentially as high as you can charge him in second-degree murder,” Richard Hornsby, a criminal defense attorney in Orlando, Fla., told MSNBC.com
On Feb. 26, an unarmed Martin was reportedly shot by Zimmerman while returning home from a nearby convenience store. The killing of the 17-year-old has caused a national outcry, sparking protests and calls for Zimmerman’s arrest. But on Wednesday afternoon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, urged everyone to remain calm, saying she was confident “justice will be served.” “For the last 44 days it has been a nightmare and this is coming from a mother’s perspective,” Fulton told reporters at a press conference in Washington, D.C. I have been up and down as if I were on a roller coaster. But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that justice will be served,” she said.
News of the charges come one day after Zimmerman’s lawyers announced they were no longer representing the 28-year-old, saying they were unable to contact their former client.
Zimmeran has maintained that he acted in self-defense on the night of the shooting and was acting under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Holder has vowed to take “appropriate action” if authorities find evidence that the shooting was a civil rights crime.
While some legal experts say that the second-degree murder charge- which carries a maximum sentence of life behind bars if Zimmerman is convicted- is a bit extreme, others have pointed out that it is too early in the case to make any determinations. Some experts have indicated that it is difficult to determine just how appropriate the second-degree murder charge is because not all of the evidence in the case has been made public. Corey remained tight-lipped about the case details during a recent press conference.
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