So much for trial by jury. Angela Corey, the Florida special prosecutor handling the Trayvon Martin case, had planned a grand jury hearing for Tuesday to decide whether to charge neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the shooting death of the unarmed 17-year-old. But on Monday, she changed her mind — just a day before the hearing. By doing so, Corey effectively crowned herself as the only person who will decide whether to charge Zimmerman, who claims he acted in self-defense. What impact will this have on the polarizing investigation? Here’s what you should know:
Why was the prosecutor allowed to skip the grand jury?
Only in the instance of first-degree murder cases does Florida law require that a grand jury decide whether charges should be filed. Corey has a reputation for avoiding grand juries unless she mustconvene one, and Martin’s shooting doesn’t qualify as a first-degree murder since it apparently wasn’t premeditated. The law simply doesn’t require a grand jury.
Is Zimmerman less likely to be charged now?
Many analysts believe Zimmerman is now more likely to be charged. Corey “may have feared that a grand jury would have refused to indict based on the evidence,” says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, “which would have been politically troublesome to say the least.” Indeed, I bet “she thinks she has enough evidence to bring charges without a grand jury indictment,” says Pat Cunningham at the Rockford Register Star. “Don’t be surprised if charges are brought before the end of the week.”
Where is Zimmerman now?
Zimmerman has been in hiding since Martin’s death became a national story. His Sanford, Fla., neighborhood, where the shooting took place, has become somewhat dangerous for Zimmerman thanks to protests demanding the 28-year-old’s arrest. Zimmerman has, however, said through his lawyers that if he is charged, he will turn himself in.