Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Special Prosecutor To Charge George Zimmerman in Tayvon Martin Death: UPDATE: In Custody and Charged With 2d Degree Murder

The special prosecutor charged to review the evidence gathered by Gov. Rick Scott, has decided that she will press ahead and charge George Zimmerman in the death of Tayvon Martin. The case has made headlines around the world (I first learned of the case while watching Sky News in Israel) and shed light on the problems associated with Florida's Stand Your Ground statute. From the Washington Post:
Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey plans to announce as early as Wednesday afternoon that she is charging neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation.

It was not immediately clear what charge Zimmerman will face.
It will clearly not be first degree murder (that would have required seating a grand jury to review the case). It will most likely be under Fl. Stat. 782.07 - manslaughter or murder 3 under Fl. Stat. 782.04, depending on what the lesser included charges may be (depends on the evidence of whether other crimes were in consideration). I think it will most likely be the manslaughter charge, rather than the murder 2 charge since we have no indication that Zimmerman engaged in any other crime, though it is conceivable that the prosecutor could determine that Zimmerman was stalking Martin at the time of the incident. That would elevate the charges to murder 3.

It isn't clear whether Zimmerman will surrender to authorities, but we do know that he is no longer represented by the counsel who originally took the case. They quit the case yesterday, and seemingly left Zimmerman hang to dry, claiming that he was not taking calls, taking advice, and also suggested that Zimmerman had left the jurisdiction of Florida, which sets up the possibility of a manhunt unless he turns himself in.

It turns out that Zimmerman's already in custody and the prosecutor has charged him with second degree murder. That's probably due to both strong evidence against Zimmerman plus the ability to give leeway to a plea deal.

Note too he's got a new lawyer. Mark O'Mara, an Orlando lawyer and former prosecutor. His background is much more on point:

Mark M. O'Mara has been practicing Criminal and Family Law in Central Florida for 28 years, and is presently Board Certified as a Criminal Trial Specialist and a Marital and Family Law Specialist. Mark is a former felony prosecutor and Division Chief and has handled all types of criminal cases, including traffic, property crimes, DUI, drug cases and Death Penalty cases. He has extensive trial experience in both state and federal criminal defense. Mark also represents clients in contested divorce cases, involving child time sharing issues, alimony and division of assets. Mark is also involved in many Bar activities, including serving as President of the Seminole County Bar Association and serving on both Circuit and Federal Grievance Committees. He currently serves as the legal analyst for Central Florida's WKMG Channel 6.

From the CV, he seems much more capable of dealing with the media crush, as well as dealing with the legal issues of the case.

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