Forty-five days after police in Sanford, Fl., released neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman without charges after he shot unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin, a special prosecutor has charged him with second-degree murder. News that Zimmerman was in custody capped an emotional and tense three weeks that raised questions about racial injustice and sparked a fiery national debate about Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
Amid massive public pressure and attention from the White House and Justice Department, prosecutor Angela Corey charged Zimmerman, a 28-year-old former altar boy going to school to become a police officer. Saying her decision had nothing to do with public pressure, Corey said she believes prosecutors can prove Zimmerman did not act in self-defense under the Stand Your Ground law. A charge of second-degree murder involves a claim that death was caused by dangerous conduct and an obvious lack of concern for human life. Florida law requires a minimum punishment of 25 years and a maximum of life in prison without parole if convicted. Officials remained on high alert. On Monday, an empty police cruiser was riddled with bullets near where Martin was shot. Zimmerman was held in an undisclosed location for his safety and the safety of others.