George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin case will not go to grand jury

April 9, 2012

Forty-four days after unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin was shot in Sanford, Fla., all sides await a decision on whether there will be charges for neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who fired the fatal shot.

The case was expected to be taken up as early as Tuesday by a grand jury.

But special prosecutor Angela Corey said Monday she will not bring the case before a grand jury.

Corey said she continues to investigate the case, and that her decision to skip the grand jury should not be a factor in determining whether charges will be filed against Zimmerman, the Associated Press reports.

The decision now rests with Corey, who would provide no further comment. Corey has two choices left, according to CNN: File charges or drop the case.


State attorney Angela Corey at the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville, Fla. in March 2010. (Bruce Lipsky/AP)

Corey previously told CNN she has never used a grand jury to decide on charges in a justifiable homicide case.

“We do a thorough investigation. We make that decision ourselves,” she told the network.

Under Florida law, only first-degree murder cases must be presented before a grand jury.

Corey is working to unravel what happened on the night of Feb. 26, when Zimmerman shot Martin in Sanford after the teenager, wearing a hoodie, left a convenience store.

Martin’s family and supporters say the shooting was racially motivated, while Zimmerman and his attorney claim the 28-year-old acted in self-defense.

Sanford police did not initially charge Zimmerman because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows someone to use deadly force in the face of danger.

Corey has handled hundreds of homicide cases involving the justifiable use of deadly force, which makes her an apt prosecutor for the case, according to the AP.

She is also known for her tough tactics, in the past locking up criminals for long sentences and making it hard to negotiate plea bargains.

“It would be fair to say that her office, when faced with the choice, files as many counts and charges as they believe they can prove,” A. Russell Smith, a past president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and friend of Corey’s, told the AP. “[That] tends to make their prosecutions more complex and expose defendants to substantially more sentences.”

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