(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — Six weeks after the controversial shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, special prosecutor Angela Corey has announced that George Zimmerman is to be charged with second-degree murder.
Zimmerman is in custody after turning himself in, Corey confirmed in outlining the charges Wednesday at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
Zimmerman, 28, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Martin, who was unarmed, on Feb. 26 after following the Sanford, Fla., teenager for several minutes.
The second-degree murder charge is similar to manslaughter in that it does not require premeditation on Zimmerman’s part.
The special prosecutor’s ruling came one day after Zimmerman’s legal team quit because they had lost contact with him, and suggested that the pressure of the case had “pushed him over the edge.”
Earlier this week, Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said his city has become a “kindling box” due to the high emotions surrounding the case, and that he would “plan for the worst and hope for the best.”
The case gained national prominence with rallies across the country demanding that Zimmerman be arrested and charged with murder. Zimmerman and his supporters say that the shooting had nothing to do with race and that he shot Martin in self-defense.
The U.S. Justice Department is also carrying out an investigation into the shooting.
Attorney General Eric Holder indicated Wednesday that the feds will have a higher bar to establish that the shooting was a hate crime.
“For a federal hate crime we have to prove the highest standard in the law it is something that was reckless, that was negligent….We have to show that there was a specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind,” Holder said.
Corey declined to say where Zimmerman is being held out of concern for his safety.
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