USA TODAY US Edition
Trayvon’s killing is now a murder case
On the night of Feb. 26:
SANFORD, Fla. — The killing of Trayvon Martin has for weeks fed a national debate about police profiling, self-defense laws, racism and even gun control.
Wednesday, the death of the unarmed black teenager in a “hoodie” became something else: A murder case.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey said in Jacksonville that George Zimmerman, 28, had been taken into custody and was awaiting arraignment within 24 hours on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of the 17-year-old. He could face life in prison if convicted.
The murder charge is likely to face intense scrutiny in the weeks ahead as it is weighed against Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which police cited the night of the shooting as the reason Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was not charged in the first place.
The law gives Florida citizens the right to use deadly force if they feel threatened; Zimmerman contends that he was attacked by Trayvon and brutally beaten.
“I can tell you we did not come to this decision lightly,” Corey said, lamenting the intense media attention brought to the case, which has been broadcast on TV nationwide. “We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition.”
Indeed, the Feb. 26 killing was elevated by social media and carried to Wednesday’s news conference by rallies across the country filled with protesters donning hoodies. The U.S. Justice Department became involved and even President Obama weighed in, offering: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
On the night of the shooting, Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, had called police minutes earlier and reported the youth as suspicious.
Zimmerman’s newly hired lawyer, Mark O’Mara, said at a news conference that his client is in
Around 6:40 p.m. Trayvon Martin leaves the home of his father’s girlfriend. He walks to a nearby store and picks up some snacks.
Around 7:05 p.m. Trayvon walks back from the store. He has a bag of Skittles and a container of iced tea. While walking, he takes calls on his cellphone from his girlfriend and his father’s girlfriend’s son.
7:11 p.m. George Zimmerman calls 911 and tells the dispatcher a “suspicious guy” in a “dark hoodie” is “just staring, looking at all the houses . . . looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.”
7:12 p.m. Trayvon Martin’s girlfriend calls his cellphone. She later recounts that Trayvon said a man “was watching him, so he put his hoodie on.”
Around 7:12 p.m. Zimmerman follows Trayvon. He says Trayvon is running toward the back entrance of the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community. The dispatcher asks Zimmerman, “Are you following him?” Zimmerman responds, “Yes.” The dispatcher says, “OK, we don’t need you to do that.” The two discuss where police should come. Zimmerman gives an address.
7:13 p.m. Before ending the call, Zimmerman says, “I don’t know where this kid is. . . . Could you have them (police) call me, and I’ll tell them where I’m at.” The dispatcher confirms Zimmerman’s number and says police will call when they arrive.
Between 7:13 and 7:16 p.m. Trayvon’s girlfriend says she stayed on the phone with Trayvon and heard him say to Zimmerman, “What are you following me for?”
7:16 p.m. Trayvon’s girlfriend says the line went dead.
Between 7:15 and 7:17 p.m. A confrontation between Trayvon and Zimmerman occurs. Differing stories have emerged from Trayvon’s family and Zimmerman’s statements to police.
Between 7:13 and 7:17 p.m. Former Sanford police chief Bill Lee says Zimmerman told officials “he had lost sight of Trayvon and was returning to his truck to meet the police officer when he says he was attacked by Trayvon.” Robert Zimmerman, George Zimmerman’s brother, later tells CNN’S Piers Morgan that Trayvon said, “Why are you following me, something like that. My brother drew back to grab his phone, in retreat to call again 911. . . . He never got to make that call, because he was attacked by Mr. Martin.” Robert Zimmerman says, “George knew he had sustained some kind of injury to his face or his nose. . . . George showed tremendous restraint. . . . George was out of breath, he was barely conscious.” He says Trayvon threatened Zimmerman and attempted to disarm him. Zimmerman then shot Trayvon.
Between 7:13 and 7:30 p.m. At least seven people near the confrontation call 911 and tell dispatchers they heard calls for help, saw people “wrestling” and heard a gunshot. Some say it is too dark to see who is outside and beg dispatchers to send police.
7:17 p.m. The first police officer arrives at the scene of the shooting. More soon arrive. Police find Trayvon on the ground, and Zimmerman tells them he shot Trayvon. Officers take Zimmerman’s 9mm semiautomatic handgun and place him in handcuffs.
Between 7:17 and 7:30 p.m. Paramedics work on Zimmerman, who is in the back of a police cruiser and says, “I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me.” Officers try to revive Trayvon. They do CPR but don’t find a pulse.
7:30 p.m. Sanford paramedics pronounce Trayvon dead.
After 7:17 p.m. Police talk to six witnesses. 7:52 p.m. Zimmerman arrives at the Sanford police station. He claims self-defense. Police, citing a lack of probable cause to hold or charge him, release Zimmerman.