Florida’s Governor Rick Scott responded to inflammatory media reports and public demonstrations demanding an arrest by appointing a Special Prosecutor to second guess the decision of the state attorney normally in charge of prosecutions in that county that insufficient evidence existed to justify bringing charges.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey, who arrived with a reputation for being “too aggressive,” lived up to her reputation by announcing on Monday that she would not bring the matter of the shooting of Trayvon Martin before a Grand Jury at all, and would decide herself on whether to bring charges.
Corey surprised most observers yesterday by charging George Zimmerman with Second Degree Murder instead of Manslaughter.
The relevant Florida law definition reads:
The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
A news agency report predicted that the prosecutor’s job would not be easy.
The prosecutors must prove Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin was rooted in hatred or ill will and counter his claims that he shot Martin to protect himself while patrolling his gated community in the Orlando suburb of Sanford. Zimmerman’s lawyers would only have to prove by a preponderance of evidence – a relatively low legal standard – that he acted in self-defense at a pretrial hearing to prevent the case from going to trial.
There’s a “high likelihood it could be dismissed by the judge even before the jury gets to hear the case,” Florida defense attorney Richard Hornsby said.