George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who says he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot an unarmed teenager in Sanford, Fla., was charged with second-degree murder Wednesday, April 11, more than six weeks after the fatal encounter.
Zimmerman has been arrested and was in the custody of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement as of Wednesday night.
The charges were announced in Jacksonville by prosecutor Angela Corey who earlier in the week announced that she would forgo a grand jury in the case placing the responsibility of whether or not to prosecute George Zimmerman squarely on her shoulders.
In Florida, a conviction for second-degree murder carries a minimum sentence of 16 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Zimmerman’s new attorney, Mark O’Mara, said that he expects to file a motion seeking bond for Zimmerman on Thursday. Currently, Zimmerman is being held without bond.
The Rev. Al Sharpton appeared with Martin’s parents after Corey’s announcement.
“They charged him with a serious crime,” Sharpton said of Zimmerman. “He deserves a fair trial. We don’t want anybody high-fiving tonight. There’s no victory here. There are no winners here. They’ve lost their son.”
The NAACP also released a statement saying, “Trayvon’s case moved the nation because it underscored the twin tragedies that affect so many of our young people: Trayvon was profiled because of his race[ and] looked upon as a threat rather than the loving son he was. And then, once he became a victim, he was neglected by the very police department tasked with protecting our communities and families. As a nation, we’ve got to address the issues of racial profiling and the valuation of Black mens’ lives by law enforcement. In the months ahead the NAACP and our allies in the civil rights community will continue to take these issues on as well as the urgent need to repeal Stand Your Ground laws. Tonight our thoughts and prayers are with Trayvon’s family. We are grateful for the courage and tenacity of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin that continue to help shape a national movement for justice for their son and for all of America’s children.”