No grand jury: What does that mean for George Zimmerman? (+video)
Special prosecutor Angela Corey will not convene a grand jury in the Trayvon Martin case, she announced Monday. So far, George Zimmerman hasn't been charged with any crime.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey said Monday that she will not bring her findings in the Trayvon Martin case before a grand jury.
Both sides had been anxiously awaiting a decision on holding a grand jury this week, and such a group was expected to convene as early as Tuesday.
However, Ms. Corey's decision doesn't give any indication of what the ultimate fate will be for George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Trayvon and so far hasn't been charged with any crime.
"The decision should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case," Corey's office said in a statement Monday. "At this time, the investigation continues and there will be no further comment from this office."
Corey has had three options: to file charges against Mr. Zimmerman, drop the case, or send it before the grand jury. And despite expectations that the jury might convene this week, Corey had indicated earlier that she might not use that option, saying that she has never before used a grand jury to decide on filing charges in a possible homicide case.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for Trayvon's family, spoke with several news outlets right after word of Corey's decision to bypass the grand jury was announced. He said he's hoping that means that charges against Zimmerman will be announced soon.
"We want to believe that this would be a positive sign that the prosecutor has enough information to arrest Trayvon Martin's killer," Mr. Crump told USA Today. "The family is really trying hard to be patient and have faith in the system."
The shooting, which occurred in February, has prompted a large outcry and sparked a nationwide debate about race and justice, as well as about Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which says that a person who feels threatened and acts in self-defense can use deadly force.
Seventeen-year-old Trayvon was walking back from a convenience store to his father's fiancée's house in Zimmerman's neighborhood when Zimmerman called the police about what he saw as suspicious behavior. Zimmerman, who was armed, apparently followed Trayvon against the advice of the 911 dispatcher.
Conflicting accounts have emerged as to what happened next, with Zimmerman claiming he acted in self-defense after Trayvon allegedly attacked him and slammed his head into the sidewalk, and with Trayvon's family and some witnesses saying that Trayvon was the one calling for help. Many people believe that Trayvon was targeted mostly because he was black, and demands for Zimmerman to be charged with a crime have only increased in the past month.
Corey, the special prosecutor, was appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) after doubts emerged as to how local law enforcement had handled the case.
Thousands of protesters have traveled to Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place. On Monday, a group of students who marched all weekend from Daytona Beach, Fla., arrived at the Sanford police station to demand Zimmerman's arrest.
Zimmerman has not spoken publicly since the shooting. His lawyers said this week that he'll speak out as soon as his case is dismissed – but that if he is charged, he plans to remain silent.