George Zimmerman, right, will be charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, will be charged in the 17-year-old’s death, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey will announce charges against the 28-year-old Zimmerman at a 6 p.m. Wednesday news conference, the official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press. Corey confirmed that an announcement on the case would be made in Jacksonville but didn’t elaborate. The person said Zimmerman’s arrest is also expected soon.
The official didn’t know the charge and spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information.
Corey had said late Tuesday, after Zimmerman’s attorneys announced they were withdrawing from the case, that she would have an announcement on charges within 72 hours.
The two attorneys said they no longer were representing Zimmerman because they haven’t heard from him since Sunday.
“As of the last couple days, he has not returned phone calls, text messages or emails,” attorney Craig Sonner said. “He’s gone on his own. I’m not sure what he’s doing or who he’s talking to.”
However, the person with knowledge of the case said law enforcement knows where Zimmerman is. His former attorneys have said he is in hiding and suffering from high levels of stress from the intense public scrutiny he is under.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder also said the Justice Department is conducting a thorough and independent review of the case after launching its own investigation three weeks ago.
Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense after following the teenager in a Sanford, Fla., a gated community outside Orlando on Feb. 26. He said he was returning to his truck when Martin attacked him and that he shot the unarmed teen during the fight. He wasn’t arrested partly because of Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force.
The lack of an arrest has led to protests across the nation and spurred a debate about race and the laws of self-defense. Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic.
Zimmerman is stressed, isolated and losing weight from the intense public scrutiny and pressure of the case, his former lawyers told The Associated Press.
“He is largely alone. You might even say he is emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case,” said Hal Uhrig, a former lawyer for George Zimmerman. The protests and the profound isolation of going into hiding may have pushed him “a little bit over the edge,” said Uhrig.
The attorneys said that, against their advice, Zimmerman contacted special prosecutor Angela Corey, who will decide if he should face charges, but prosecutors in her office refused to talk to him without his lawyers present. Late Tuesday, Corey released a statement saying she would make an announcement on the case within 72 hours. The statement did not specify what new development in the case would be released.
“To handle it this way, suggests that he may not be in complete control of what’s going on. We’re concerned for his emotional and physical safety,” Uhrig said.