George Zimmerman Charged With Second-Degree Murder in Trayvon Martin Case

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George Zimmerman will face criminal charges in the death of Trayvon Martin.

According to a senior law enforcement quoted by CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and the Associated Press, the neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Fla., will be charged criminally in the February 26 case that has captivated the nation.

A legal analyst said earlier that the most likely charge would be manslaughter, but it was just announced that Zimmerman faces second-degree murder charges.

George Zimmerman Picture

A press conference announcing the decision took place at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to look into the incident, stated earlier that she would not take the case to a grand jury.

That automatically ruled out first-degree murder as an option, but the second-degree murder charge was still on the table - and ultimately what Corey decided.

“I can tell you we absolutely did not come to this decision lightly,” Corey told reporters moments ago. “We do not prosecute by public pressure.”

Zimmerman is in custody, Corey confirmed, though she gave no additional details. CNN reports that he surrendered to local officials earlier today.

Lawyers for Zimmerman, 28, stepped down from the case Tuesday, saying he'd become uncommunicative and expressing concern for his emotional and physical well-being.

"As of the last couple days, he has not returned phone calls, text messages or emails," Craig Sonner, one of Zimmerman's former attorneys, said. 

"He's gone on his own. I'm not sure what he's doing or who he's talking to. I cannot go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman and this case and continue representing him because I've lost contact with him."

Describing Zimmerman as "emotionally crippled" by the scrutiny he's faced in the wake of the shooting, attorney Hal Uhrig said Tuesday that he and Sonner are concerned for their former client's mental and physical well-being.

They also implied that he may have considered leaving Florida in the wake of the intense media scrutiny, but that's a moot point now.

Trayvon Martin Pic

Sonner and Uhrig told reporters that Zimmerman, against their advice, had contacted the special prosecutor, Corey. He also set up his own website to collect donations without his lawyers' knowledge, they have said.

George Zimmerman, who is half white and half Hispanic, maintains he was acting in self-defense when he shot the African-American Trayvon Martin, 17.

Zimmerman has said he shot Martin in self-defense after the youth struck him in the face, knocked him down and began pounding his head into the ground.

But many believe Zimmerman was in fact the aggressor, emboldened by his status as the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain in his neighborhood.

The teen was killed shortly after Zimmerman called 911 after seeing him walking in his neighborhood at night, stirring national debate over racial profiling.

Martin was unarmed at the time, but police found insufficient evidence to prove that Zimmerman acted outside the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law.

The Florida state law broadly permits the use of deadly force if a person is attacked and fearing severe harm or death and acting in self-defense.

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