The killing of Trayvon Martin has for weeks fed a national debate about police profiling, self-defense laws, racism and even gun control.
Wednesday, the death of the unarmed black teenager in a “hoodie” became something else: A murder case.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey said in Jacksonville that George Zimmerman, 28, had been taken into custody and was awaiting arraignment within 24 hours on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of the 17-year-old. He could face life in prison if convicted.
The murder charge is likely to face intense scrutiny in the weeks ahead as it is weighed against Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which police cited the night of the shooting as the reason Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was never charged in the first place. The law gives Florida citizens the right to use deadly force if they feel threatened; Zimmerman contends that he was attacked by Trayvon and brutally beaten.
“I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly,” Corey said, lamenting the intense media attention brought to the case, which has been broadcast on TV nationwide. “We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition.”