A special prosecutor in Florida charged neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman with second-degree murder on Wednesday in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, a move protesters had demanded for weeks in a racially charged case that has riveted the United States. Zimmerman, who had been in hiding, was under arrest at Florida's Seminole County jail after turning himself in, officials said. His new defense lawyer said he would plead not guilty and that a hearing to establish bail could come as soon as Thursday. Special prosecutor Angela Corey's decision to charge Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, came 45 days after the fatal shooting in a quiet gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford. Police had declined to arrest Zimmerman based on his account of self-defense and Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, setting off civil rights demonstrations across the country. "I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly," Corey told a news conference in Jacksonville. "Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts of any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida." Martin, 17, was on his way back to the home of his father's fiancee when Zimmerman spotted him and considered him suspicious, calling police and defying their advice to give up following the teenager. Zimmerman told police he was walking back to his truck when Martin attacked him, decking him with one punch to the nose. Martin then repeatedly slammed Zimmerman's head against a concrete walkway, Zimmerman's brother and father have said. Zimmerman then pulled out a 9mm handgun he was licensed to carry and shot Martin once in the chest. Witnesses heard screams for help and then a gunshot, sounds that were captured on 911 emergency calls by neighbors. It was unclear who was screaming. Martin's parents said they recognized the voice as their son's. But Zimmerman's brother Robert swore it was George Zimmerman pleading for help. The decision on whether to charge Zimmerman rested with Corey since she was appointed by Florida's governor on March 22. The firestorm of protests had forced Sanford's police chief to step aside and the regularly assigned prosecutor to remove himself from the case, leading to Corey's appointment. The disputed facts surrounding the shooting have been picked apart endlessly by television commentators, while dominating the headlines and reigniting a discussion about guns, self-defense laws and what it means to be black in America. By seeking second-degree murder rather than a lesser charge such as manslaughter, Corey reaffirmed her reputation as a prosecutor who will seek to bring the most serious charge possible. If convicted, Zimmerman could face a prison sentence of up to 25 years to life.The standards that need to be met to get a second-degree conviction are difficult to attain, so we can only imagine the treasure trove of evidence the prosecutor has in her arsenal. Then again, this is Florida. Remember "Totmom" Casey Anthony?
George Zimmerman Charged With Murder
After weeks of public outcry, George Zimmerman, the Florida man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, has been charged with murder.