SANFORD, Florida – George Zimmerman, the man accused of killing unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, turned himself in at a Florida jail Wednesdy night. Hours before, Zimmerman, who told prosecutors he shot Martin in self defense on Feb. 26, was charged with second degree murder.
From Huffington Post:
The murder charge indicates prosecutors plan to prove Zimmerman shot Martin with malice, though without premeditation. A manslaughter charge would have required prosecutors to prove only that Zimmerman acted unlawfully and with criminal negligence in shooting the teen.
“The difference between murder and manslaughter is your mental state,” said Mark Geragos, a Los Angeles defense attorney, who is not connected to the case. “To elevate it to murder, you have to have the element of malice.”
In Florida, a grand jury must be convened before issuing first-degree murder charges. On Monday, Corey announced that she would not convene a grand jury, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, in the Martin case.
Zimmerman’s first court appearance is expected Thursday where he will plead not guilty, it has been reported. Zimmerman was in hiding for weeks before turning himself in. The lack of an arrest had led to widespread protests and debate over race and a Florida law that gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger.
Zimmerman, 28, was questioned by the police the night of the shooting but was released shortly afterwards. Police investigating the case thought there was not enough evidence ‘ to refute his claims of self-defense.’
- Huffington Post and Agencies