George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida who fatally shot unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in February, will face criminal charges, it is to be announced Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET, a senior law enforcement tells CNN. CBS, ABC, NBC and the Associated Press have also quoted sources as saying Zimmerman will be charged.
Although details will not be revealed until the announcement, Angela Corey, the special prosecutor appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to look into the controversial incident, has already stated that she will not take the case to a grand jury. That automatically ruled out first-degree murder as an option.
A legal analyst told CNN that the most likely charge would be manslaughter.
Lawyers for Zimmerman, 28, stepped down from the case Tuesday, saying Zimmerman had been uncommunicative and expressing concern for his emotional and physical well-being.
“As of the last couple days, he has not returned phone calls, text messages or emails,” Craig Sonner, one of Zimmerman”s former attorneys, said at a press conference Tuesday. “He”s gone on his own. I”m not sure what he”s doing or who he”s talking to. I cannot go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman and this case as representing him because I”ve lost contact with him.”
Describing Zimmerman as “emotionally crippled” by the scrutiny he”s faced in the wake of the shooting, attorney Hal Uhrig said Tuesday that he and Sonner are concerned for their former client”s mental and physical well-being. They also implied that he may have left Florida in the wake of media coverage about the case.
Sonner and Uhrig told reporters that Zimmerman, against their advice, had contacted special prosecutor Angela Corey.
He also set up a website to collect donations without his lawyers” knowledge, they have said.
Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, maintains he was acting in self-defense when he shot Martin, 17, on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. The teen was on his way home from a 7-Eleven, carrying a bottle of iced tea and a packet of Skittles.
The shooting has sparked a national debate about race and gun laws, with even President Obama speaking out about the incident.
Sonner said Tuesday that he still believes Zimmerman was acting in self-defense when he shot Martin, but added: “I just can”t proceed to represent a client who doesn”t stay in contact with me.”
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