On February 26, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida. Now -- 46 days, several marches, and more than 2 million signatures later -- George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the case. After receiving death threats and fearing for his safety, he took to hiding and some reports say he had left the state. When he learned he would be charged, however, he turned himself in.
Although this case has gotten a lot of media attention, special prosecutor Angela Corey insists that public opinion played no role in the decision to charge Zimmerman. Some are skeptical as to how true this is, given that the case got so much attention even President Obama spoke out. But for others, there's just a sense of relief that Zimmerman was charged at all, after the chief of police said there wouldn't be any arrest immediately following the murder.
Now the attention turns to the case. Zimmerman contends that Martin attacked him and he acted in self-defense. The eyewitness reports, tapes of 911 calls, and anything else that comes up will be scrutinized.
Then there's the issue of the charge itself. Because he was charged with second-degree murder rather than manslaughter, they need to prove that there was malice involved in killing Martin. A manslaughter charge simply means that Zimmerman acted unlawfully, but murder means there is an intention of doing harm. Will second-degree murder be harder to prove? Is there a chance that simply charging him isn't enough for people to think that justice was served?
In the meantime, Martin's death has sparked several conversations and debates. Gun-toting NRA supporters are rooting for Zimmerman because of Florida's gun laws, which state that you can use one if you feel any threat. The issue of race in the case started to evolve as it came out that, despite his light skin and surname, Zimmerman is actually Latino. And most recently, the issue of Zimmerman's mental health in the last month or two has been used to strike sympathy for him. He has lost weight and when his lawyers stepped down from the case earlier this week, they mentioned he might be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Like millions of others around the country, we're keeping a close eye on the case and the racial and political discussions surrounding it.