George Zimmerman was charged with 2nd degree murder in the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Why was he charged with that count?
In order for Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who claims he shot Martin in self-defense, to be charged with 2nd degree murder, either special prosecutor Angela Corey did not believe the death was a premeditated act or she doesn't have enough evidence to make that case. But from all the media reports on the Trayvon Martin shooting, the former is the likelier scenario.
We did not come to this decision [to press charges] lightly, Corey said during a news conference Wednesday night announcing the second-degree murder charges against Zimmerman. We do not prosecute by pressure or petition It is the search for justice for Trayvon Martin that has brought us to this moment.
In the case of 2nd degree murder, Corey has to prove that Zimmerman acted with a depraved mind regardless of human life, according to the Florida murder statute.
The case spurred debates about race and justice along with outrage that Zimmerman had not been charged in Trayvon's death. But those charges were announced last night by Corey.
Martin, an unarmed 15-year-old black teenager, stepped out from his father's girlfriend's home in Sanford, Fla. In February to get Skittles from a convenience store when Zimmerman noticed him and believed Trayvon was acted suspiciously.
Zimmerman alerted 911 about Trayvon and was told by a dispatcher to let the police investigate, but he pursued the teen anyway.
Trayvon and Zimmerman were engaged in a struggle when Trayvon was shot. Zimmerman maintained he shot Trayvon in self-defense.
IBTimes looked at the Florida statutes on murder so you can understand the difference between first and 2nd degree murder.
According to the Florida statues, first degree murder is committed when perpetrated from a premeditated design to effect the death of the person killed or any human being, meaning that the killer planned the murder or thought out the murder plot.
First degree murder is also committed if the victim is killed while the murderer is committing another crime, such as arson, sexual battery, trafficking, kidnapping and other offenses, according to the statutes.
Zimmerman was charged with 2nd degree murder, which is defined under Florida law as a killing that was not premeditated but was imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life
If somebody commits a crime such as arson, sexual battery, robbery or burglary and the victim is killed by another person during the act, the person who is committing the offense also is guilty of 2nd degree murder, according to the statute.
Zimmerman faces anywhere from 10 years to life in prison if convicted of the charges.
The annoucement of the charges came as Zimmerman's former attorneys said Tuesday they were no longer representing him. The lawyers said Zimmerman had an off-the-record conversation with Sean Hannity of Fox News that they were unaware of and that Zimmerman .Zimmerman's former attorneys also said he was no longer in Florida.