Courtesy of Huffington Post and Mediaite
George Zimmerman In Custody, Charged With Second-Degree Murder In Trayvon Martin Case
|George Zimmerman, 28 the shooter of Trayvon Martin|
He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Authorities said that Zimmerman, who has been in hiding for weeks, was in police custody. Special prosecutor Angela Corey said during a news conference that she would not reveal where Zimmerman was out of concern for his safety. "He is within the custody of law enforcement officers in the state of Florida," Corey said.
The murder charge indicates that prosecutors believe that they can prove Zimmerman shot Martin with malice, though without premeditation. A manslaughter charge would have required prosecutors only to prove 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."
Malice is generally defined as showing ill will or "extreme indifference" to human life.
The announcement of the charges comes a day after Zimmerman's attorneys withdrew their counsel, saying they lost contact with him and that he repeatedly ignored their legal advice.
On the night of the shooting, Zimmerman was questioned at the police station, but he was released shortly thereafter. The police said there was not enough evidence to refute his claims of self-defense.
Martin's death and subsequent handling of the investigation sparked national outrage and calls for Zimmerman's arrest. The case became a flashpoint in the ongoing national debate over racial profiling and gun control.
Trayvon's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, watched Wednesday's press conference in Washington on a small television. As Corey read the charges, the slain teen's parents held hands and watched. “Thank you, Lord,” said Benjamin Crump, the family's attorney as he patted Tracy Martin's knee.
At a press conference after the charges were announced, Fulton said she was thankful for the outpouring of public support. “I just want to speak from my heart to your heart, because a heart has no color," she said. "It's not black, it’s not white, it's red, and I want to say thank you from my heart to your heart."
Both the defense and prosecution face the challenge of trying a case that has drawn extraordinary media scrutiny, and inflamed passions both for and against Zimmerman. Jury selection will be a crucial and difficult task given the tremendous media coverage afforded to the shooting, experts said.
"This case is won or lost in jury selection," Geragos said.
For some, the prosecution of Zimmerman may also be a symbolic test of Florida's ability to conduct a fair trial in a case that has radically polarized the public and fueled marches and protests across the country. Just last year, Casey Anthony, a young Florida mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, was acquitted of murder, a verdict that many decried as a miscarriage of justice.
"The state of Florida is on trial here, not just Zimmerman," said Kenneth Nunn, a law professor at the University of Florida.
From the start, Martin’s family and their attorneys questioned the impartiality and thoroughness of the police investigation into the teen’s killing.
|New Black Panthers "Wanted Poster" off The Drudge Report|
While police conducted a criminal background check on Martin, as well as drug and alcohol tests, Zimmerman was not subject the same tests. It was learned later that Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for assaulting a police officer and has had a history of aggression and violence, including domestic violence.
During her news conference announcing the charges, Corey took an apparent swipe at Sanford police officials, who leaked confidential information about the case that appeared to bolster Zimmerman's claims of self-defense.
"So much information on the case got released that never should have been released," Corey said.
The Sean Hannity Impact:
You Get The Notion President Barack Obama Will Easily Win Reelection Because of Sean Hannity and His Ongoing Obama Derangement Syndrome.
Why on earth would this conservative agitator get involved in the Trayvon Martin case?
This is the latest bombshell of information that's coming from the two attorneys who recently spoke out on their client George Zimmerman. The Zimmerman legal defense team of Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig stepped aside after failing to get in contact with him and made the claim that he's no longer in Sanford, Florida. What really upsets them was the private conversation with Fox News host Sean Hannity, and his failure to disclose that to them. The conservative agitator Sean Hannity somehow meddles in the Trayvon Martin case. For what reason? To have the New Black Panthers arrested for making a bounty on the shooter of an unarmed teenager?
This week, George Zimmerman created his own personal website and wanted his supporters pay for his legal expenses. Sean Hannity interviewed the father and urged him to speak out against President Barack Obama and Civil Rights leaders. George Zimmerman's family wants Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate the death threats that he's gotten recently.
Fox News Channel promotes a conservative prospective to most issues.
This fake "Wanted: Dead or Alive Poster" by the New Black Panther Party for Self Justice is ridiculous.
They're not taken seriously. They have no decency!
Why is Sean Hannity and most on the right focused on it?
Because it's a rehashing of the events during the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections. The right has been focused on the incident where two New Black Panthers were at a voting station in Philadelphia. The firestorm started when one of the men waving a baton and hurling racial slurs at two videographers for a conservative agitating website. The U.S. Justice Department dismissed the case and felt there was no intimidation against the voters.
|Sean Hannity and other conservatives openly support George Zimmerman.|
NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity has become the second cable news host whose involvement in the Trayvon Martin shooting case has gone beyond merely talking about it on the air.
Hannity acknowledged having a conversation with a man he believed to be George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the black Florida teenager Feb. 26 in a case that has ignited racial tensions. Zimmerman's former lawyers, in quitting the case Tuesday, noted that their client had talked to Hannity more recently than with them.
Hannity, who last week interviewed Zimmerman's father on Fox, said there has been a "rush to judgment" about the shooter.
Over on MSNBC, Al Sharpton has participated in marches and demonstrations in support of Martin while continuing to discuss the case on his evening talk show. There have been stark differences in the attention and focus on the case at the two networks.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Wednesday that charges were being filed against Zimmerman and that his arrest was expected. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.
Hannity's involvement in the case came to light Tuesday at a news conference held by Zimmerman's former lawyers, Hal Uhrig and Craig Sonner. Hannity, who said on his show Tuesday night that he's been pursuing a Zimmerman interview for weeks, said he was contacted Monday by a man he believes was Zimmerman.
"He reached out to me, we spoke on the phone about his case and I agreed not to report on the contents of that conversation," Hannity said.
On his radio show Monday, Hannity said he had confirmed that Zimmerman was a mentor to minority children. "Now, if you were racist, I don't think you'd be a mentor to minority children," he said.
With Uhrig and Sonner present, Hannity last week on Fox interviewed Zimmerman's father, Robert. Robert Zimmerman's face was concealed during the interview.
During the interview, Hannity told Zimmerman that "I would argue there has been a rush to judgment." He cited statements made by political and civil rights leaders about the shooting being racially motivated —
George Zimmerman's father is white and his mother Hispanic — and mentioned President Barack Obama's comment that if he had a son, he would likely look like Trayvon.
Zimmerman's father said he agreed. "I just believe it's very sad that so many people are not telling the truth for their own agenda," he said.
During the interview, Zimmerman's father said he had never heard his son utter a racial slur and, prompted by Hannity, recalled a time when his son helped a black homeless man.
Hannity also devoted a portion of his show Tuesday to discussing a report that the New Black Panther Party had put a bounty on George Zimmerman's head.
There was no progress to report Wednesday on Hannity's attempt to get a George Zimmerman interview, according to Fox.
Cable news networks had sharply different appetites for the case, according to research by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. From March 19 to 28, MSNBC — where the prime-time hosts are liberal — the network devoted 49 percent of its on-air time to the Martin story. During the same period at Fox, where the prime-time hosts are conservative, 15 percent of the news hole was spent on the case. It was 40 percent at CNN.
On March 26, for example, MSNBC carried 14 minutes of a mid-afternoon news conference by Martin's parents live and uninterrupted by commercials, the project said. CNN aired the news conference for a little more than five minutes. Fox didn't mention the story at all in that hour, the Excellence Project reported.
The topics that drew the most attention about the case on MSNBC concerned gun control and Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, the project said. On Fox, the most time spent was on Martin's background and statements in defense of Zimmerman.
Associated Press writers Kyle Hightower in Sanford, Fla., and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.