Neighborhood Watch Volunteer Appears in Court Over Shooting of Black Teen

Posted April 12th, 2012 at 3:20 pm (UTC-5)
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The neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder in the February 26 shooting death of an African-American teenager has made his first appearance in a Florida courtroom.

Thursday's appearance was brief, with George Zimmerman only saying “yes sir” when asked basic questions about the charge against him for the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The judge set May 29 as the next court date, when the charge and Zimmerman's plea of “not guilty” will be formally filed.

But it still is not certain whether Zimmerman will remain in detention until then. Outside the courtroom, his attorney, Mark O'Mara, told reporters that a separate hearing will be scheduled to ask for his client to be released on bail.

Zimmerman surrendered to police Wednesday after a judge announced the criminal charge. After the shooting incident, police took him into custody, but because Zimmerman said he shot the teen in self-defense, he was released without charges.

Zimmerman's release sparked weeks of protests by people calling for him to face consequences for the shooting.

Martin's family says the teen was unarmed and that Zimmerman confronted him because of his race. On U.S. television , Thursday, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, said the fact that the paths of the two men crossed was an accident, but called the shooting of her son “murder.”

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.