Prosecutor charges Zimmerman with second-degree murder

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George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Miami teenager Trayvon Martin, has been charged with second-degree murder.

State attorney Angela Corey, who took over the case after the state attorney of record, Norman Wolfiinger, recused himself from the case last month, made the announcement Wednesday, and confirmed that Zimmerman is in custody.

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“We do not charge on public pressure,” Corey said before announcing the charges, saying the case, which has received international attention, should not be tried in the public arena.

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Zimmerman is represented by a new attorney, Max O’Mara. Corey would not disclose his whereabouts, but under Florida law, he would be tried in Seminole County.

Corey said she would not disclose Zimmerman’s location, for his own safety.

“I can tell you he is in the custody of law enforcement officers here in the state of Florida,” Corey said of Zimmerman.

Corey said she was not sure Wolfimger’s office had completed their investigation at the time he recused himself from the case and Florida Gov. Rick Scott assigned the case to her.

The case has driven fault lines among racial and poltical lines. However Corey said her office cares only about seeking justice for Trayvon Martin’s family.

“Those of us who work in law enforcement are committed to justice for all our victims of every race, every gender,” Corey said, “The only category we know is V, and that’s for victim.”

She acknowledged that Zimmerman reached out to her office – but not to her personally – before his lawyers quit the case.

In her closing remarks, Corey spoke about her first meeting with the parents of the slain teen.

“After meeting with Trayvon’s parents that first Monday night after we were appointed, the first thing we did was pray with them,” Corey said, “We opened our meeting with prayer. We didn’t promise them anything. … In fact, we said to them, if we do not bring charges, what can we do to help make sure your son’s death was not in vain?”

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, who represents the district in Miami where Martin lived with his parents, issued the following statement:

“Trayvon Martin’s parents endured a loss that no one should have to endure. Parents should not have to bury their child. It took 45 days, but finally, second-degree murder charges have been filed against the man who killed their son. That George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin is not in dispute. But letting him enjoy his freedom for 45 days was unconscionable. We’ve stood up for Trayvon for 45 days. We’ve stood up for justice for 45 days.

“I’ve been praying for Trayvon’s family. Thankfully, the special prosecutor announced today that second-degree murder charges have been filed against Mr. Zimmerman. Now, the American justice system will take its course. While this chapter in the Trayvon Martin case may be over, we still need to have an honest and open discussion of the hard truths that led to this tragedy. Trayvon’s death must not be in vain. Racial profiling still exists in our country. There’s a level of distrust between law enforcement and Black men. These are difficult conversations to have, but we must have them so that there will be no more tragedies like Trayvon’s.”

Trayvon Martin’s parents made a few short statements to the press following Corey’s announcement she intends to pursue second-degree murder chargers for Zimmerman.

“I just want to thank God,” Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother, said, “We simply wanted an arrest, nothing more and nothing less and we got it…thank you Lord. I want to say love has no color.”

Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father also made a few brief remarks.

“When we started marching, I said I will walk by faith,” Martin said, “We will continue to walk – white, black and Latino. We will continue to march until the right thing is done.”

Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @TheReidReport