George Zimmerman was arrested and faces charges ofsecond-degree murder in the shooting of TrayvonMartin during a neighborhood watch according to alaw enforcement official talking to the AssociatedPress.
The official with knowledge of the case says thatthe charge against George Zimmerman will beannounced at a news conference by specialprosecutor Angela Corey at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Theofficial says the 28-year-old Sanford man is incustody in Florida but wouldn't say where.
A second-degree murder charge in Florida carries amaximum sentence of life in prison. It istypically charged when there is a fight or otherconfrontation that results in death and wherethere is no premeditated plan to kill someone.
The official spoke on condition of anonymitybecause he wasn't authorized to disclose theinformation.
Zimmerman's arrest was delayed partly because ofFlorida's "stand your ground" law, which givespeople wide leeway to use deadly force withouthaving to retreat in the face of danger. The lackof an arrest had sparked outrage and rallies forjustice in the Orlando suburb and across thecountry.
Zimmerman's shooting of the 17-year-old blackteenager on Feb. 26 brought demands from blackleaders for his arrest and set off a furiousnationwide debate over race and self-defense thatreached all the way to the White House.
Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose motheris Hispanic, said the teenager attacked him.Martin's family argued Zimmerman was theaggressor.
On Tuesday, Zimmerman's lawyers announced theywere withdrawing from the case because they hadn'theard from him since Sunday and didn't know wherehe was. They portrayed his mental state asfragile.
"He is largely alone. You might even say he isemotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure ofthis case," said one of the lawyers, Hal Uhrig.
The case has drawn the interest of the highestlevels of the Obama administration, with theJustice Department's civil rights division openingits own investigation.
Tensions have risen in recent days in Sanford.Someone shot up an unoccupied police car Tuesdayas it sat outside the neighborhood where Martinwas killed. And a demonstration by collegestudents closed the town's police station Monday.
Six weeks ago, Martin was returning to thehome ofhis father's fiancee from a convenience store whenZimmerman started following him. Zimmerman toldpolice dispatchers he looked suspicious. At somepoint, the two got into a fight and Zimmerman usedhis gun.
Zimmerman told police Martin attacked him after hehad given up chasing the teenager and wasreturning to his truck. He told detectives thatMartin knocked him to the ground and beganslamming his head on the sidewalk. Zimmerman'sfather said that Martin threatened to kill his sonand that Zimmerman suffered a broken nose.
A video taken about 40 minutes after the shootingas Zimmerman arrived at the Sanford police stationshowed him walking unassisted without difficulty.There were no plainly visible bandages or blood onhis clothing, but Zimmerman may have had a smallwound on the back of his head.
The shooting ignited resentment toward the policedepartment, and Police Chief Bill Lee temporarilystepped down to let passions cool.
Civil rights groups and others have held ralliesaround the country, saying the shooting wasunjustified. Many of the protesters wore the sametype of hooded sweat shirt that Martin had on thatday, suggesting his appearance and race hadsomething to do with his killing.
President Barack Obama injected himself into thedebate, urging Americans to "do some soul-searching." ''If I had a son, he'd look likeTrayvon," Obama said March 23.
The local prosecutor disqualified himself from thecase, and Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey, theprosecutor for Jacksonville, to take it over.