Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin, is now  jailed in Sanford, Florida, the site of the killing Feb. 26 that set off a nationwide debate over racial profiling and self-defense.

In announcing the arrest, prosecutor Angela Corey would not discuss how she reconciled the conflicting accounts of what happened or explain how she arrived at the charges, saying too much information had been made public already.

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But she made it clear she was not influenced by the uproar over the past six weeks. “We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts on any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida,” Corey said.

 

The charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Second-degree murder is typically charged when there is a fight or other confrontation that results in death and where there is no premeditated plan to kill someone.

Zimmerman’s new attorney, Mark O’Mara, said Zimmerman will plead not guilty and will invoke Florida’s powerful “stand your ground” law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger.

The lawyer asked that people not jump to conclusions about his client’s guilt and said he is “hoping that the community will calm down” now that charges have been filed. “I’m expecting a lot of work and hopefully justice in the end,” O’Mara said.

Zimmerman has asserted since the Feb. 26 killing in Sanford that he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense after the two fought.

Trayvon Martin parents eager for arrest

The parents of Trayvon Martin say charges against George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting their son would start the healing process, but they won’t stop fighting until he’s convicted.

During a press conference following the announcement of the charges, Trayvon Martin’s mother said: `We just wanted an arrest and we got it.’ .

Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, tells The Associated Press that right now she and Martin’s father “can’t get past our son being murdered and no one being arrested.” His father, Tracy Martin, says it will be very important to also get a conviction.

The parents’ attorney, Ben Crump, says although the family wants an arrest, “nothing is going to bring Trayvon back.”