Zimmerman Charged with Murder in Florida Shooting of Black Teen

Posted April 11th, 2012 at 8:45 pm (UTC-5)
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The attorney representing Florida shooting suspect George Zimmerman says his client will plead not guilty to charges of second-degree murder.

Zimmerman is expected to appear before a judge Thursday for a bond hearing.

Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey Wednesday charged Zimmerman, a white, Hispanic man, in the shooting death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin.

She gave no details of the evidence that led to the charges in the February 26 shooting, but said there was a thorough investigation. Corey said Florida courts do not prosecute people by public pressure but on the facts and the law.

Second-degree murder is defined as an intentional killing that was not pre-meditated. It could also be defined as a killing caused by a suspect's dangerous conduct and disregard for human life. The maximum penalty is life in prison.

Police did not arrest Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman said he was attacked by Martin and shot the teen in self-defense.

Martin's family says Trayvon was unarmed and confronted because of his race — a young black man walking alone at night. They demanded Zimmerman be charged.

Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department will take action if it finds evidence of a federal civil rights crime.

The case has ignited a national debate about racial tensions in the United States. Martin's supporters say the shooting shows how young black men are constantly threatened with violence, while Zimmerman supporters say race had nothing to do with the killing.