Corey announced a second-degree murder charge at the State Attorney’s Office in Jacksonville tonight, more than six weeks after Trayvon and Zimmerman’s fatal encounter.
If convicted, Zimmerman would face up to life in prison on the first-degree felony charge. He arrived at the Seminole County jail about 8:30 p.m. tonight.
“The team here with me has worked tirelessly looking for answers in Trayvon Martin’s death,” Corey said, introducing her prosecutors and investigators.
Corey added that “we do not prosecute by public pressure.” She said that her office handles all cases the same way, regardless of the scrutiny.
“We will continue to seek the truth in this case,” Corey said. “There is a reason cases are tried in a court of law.”
Corey confirmed that a warrant was issued for Zimmerman’s arrest, and he is in custody. She declined to say what evidence her office has that would counter his self-defense claim.
She also declined to reveal Zimmerman’s location.
At one point during the news conference, Corey recounted her first meeting with Trayvon’s parents. She said her prosecution team and an attorney for Trayvon’s parents also attended.
“We opened our meeting in prayer,’’ Corey said.
She said she didn’t promise Trayvon’s parents anything.
At the Washington convention center where Trayvon’s parents are expected to speak tonight, a crowd of about 40 had gathered around a hallway TV to hear the decision by the special prosecutor.
When she said they would pursue second-degree murder, many in the group erupted in applause.
Soon after Corey’s announcement, theRev. Al Sharptonaddressed the crowd.
“We don’t want anyone high-fiveing tonight. There was no winner tonight,” Sharpton said. “This is not about gloating. This is about pursuing justice.”
Said Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump: “This is only first base.”
Meanwhile, Zimmerman has retained a new lawyer. Veteran Central Florida attorney Mark O’Mara will represent him, CNN legal analyst Mark NeJame confirmed.
NeJame, himself a prominent local lawyer, also confirmed that Zimmerman is in the custody of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Zimmerman, a former altar boy whose dream was to become a police officer, shot and killed Trayvon, a high school junior, on a rainy evening Feb. 26 in Sanford.