Trayvon Martin shooter charged with murder

Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:28pm EDT
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By Amy Wimmer Schwarb and Tom Brown

JACKSONVILLE/SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) - A special prosecutor in Florida charged neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman with second-degree murder on Wednesday in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin - a move that protesters had been demanding for weeks in the racially charged case.

Zimmerman was under arrest at an undisclosed location in Florida, officials said.

Special prosecutor Angela Corey's decision came 45 days after the fatal shooting in a quiet gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford.

Police had declined to arrest Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, based on his account of self-defense, setting off civil rights demonstrations around the country.

"I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly," Corey told a news conference in Jacksonville.

"Let me emphasize that we do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts of any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida."

The decision on whether to charge Zimmerman, for the death of Martin, 17, had rested with Corey since she was appointed by Florida's governor on March 22.

The firestorm of protests forced Sanford's police chief to step aside and the regularly assigned prosecutor to remove himself from the case on March 22, leading to Corey's appointment.   Continued...

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who sparked a national uproar by shooting Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager to death, is pictured in this Orange County, Florida, Sheriff's Office booking photograph taken in July 2005. REUTERS/Orange County Sheriff's Office/Handout