Zimmerman to be Charged in Trayvon Martin Case

Wire Report | 4/11/2012, 4:14 p.m.

Reports have confirmed that neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman will be charged in the February shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

State Attorney Angela Corey is scheduled to hold a news conference at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the state attorney's office in Jacksonville, Florida related to the Martin investigation.

According to a senior law enforcement official, Corey is expected to announce that Zimmerman will face state charges. The number or nature of the charges was not immediately known.

Some of the charges that Zimmercan could face range from involuntary manslaughter to voluntary manslaughter to second-degree murder, according to Mary Anne Franks, associate law professor at the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Florida. Both involuntary and voluntary manslaughter could carry up to 15 years to prison, while the second-degree murder charge could carry a sentence of life in prison.

Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense after following the teenager in a Sanford 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 was briefly held by police but was not arrested, in part because of Florida's "stand your ground" self-defense law.

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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. Martin was black.

On Tuesday, Zimmerman's attorneys announced they were no longer representing him and that they had not heard from him since Sunday, although he had contacted talk show host Sean Hannity and the special prosecutor.

"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.

Earlier Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Justice Department will take appropriate action in the killing of Trayvon Martin if it finds evidence that a federal criminal civil rights crime has been committed.