Murder charge filed in Trayvon Martin case

George Zimmerman 2005 Booking Photo
In this handout, George Zimmerman poses for a mug shot in this 2005 booking photo. At the time Zimmerman was arrested and charged with battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest, charges that were eventually dropped. On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by Zimmerman.
Handout/Getty Images

By BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has been arrested and faces a charge of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, special prosecutor Angela Corey announced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Corey said Zimmerman, 28, is in custody in Florida but wouldn't say where.

A second-degree murder charge in Florida carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. It is typically charged when there is a fight or other confrontation that results in death and where there is no premeditated plan to kill someone.

Zimmerman's arrest was delayed partly because of Florida's "stand your ground" law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger. The lack of an arrest had sparked outrage and rallies for justice in the Orlando suburb and across the country.

Zimmerman's shooting of the 17-year-old black teenager on Feb. 26 brought demands from black leaders for his arrest and set off a furious nationwide debate over race and self-defense that reached all the way to the White House.

Trayvon Martin
In this undated file family photo, Trayvon Martin poses for a family photo. A law enforcement official says that the killer in the Martin case will be charged with second-degree murder and is in custody.
Anonymous/AP

Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, said the teenager attacked him. Martin's family argued Zimmerman sweat shirt that Martin had on that day, suggesting his appearance and race had something to do with his killing.

President Barack Obama injected himself into the debate, urging Americans to "do some soul-searching." "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," Obama said March 23.

The local prosecutor disqualified himself from the case, and Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey, the prosecutor for Jacksonville, to take it over.

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