Amid furious public pressure to make an arrest in the killing of Trayvon Martin, the special prosecutor on the case went for the maximum Wednesday, bringing a second-degree murder charge against the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed black teenager.
There's still no word on whether George Zimmerman will be charged in the death of Trayvon Martin -- but if he is, the charge won't be first-degree murder.
George Zimmerman, 28, was jailed in Sanford -- the site of the shooting Feb. 26 that set off a nationwide debate over racial profiling and self-defense -- on charges that carry a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum sentence that could put him in prison for life.
The special prosecutor who's deciding whether to file charges announced today that she's not going to take the case to a grand jury. That's a step that would only be required if a first-degree murder case.
"We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts on any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida," Corey said.
Martin's parents, who were in Washington when the announcement came, expressed relief over the decision to prosecute the killer of their 17-year-old son.
Angela Corey could still charge Zimmerman with a serious felony such as manslaughter, which can carry a lengthy prison sentence.
Zimmerman's new attorney, Mark O'Mara, said Zimmerman will plead not guilty and will invoke Florida's powerful "stands your ground" law, which gives people wide leeway to use deadly force without having to retreat in the face of danger.
One Florida defense attorney says the decision not to go to a grand jury means Corey won't have to rely on potentially-unpredictable jurors. David Hill says Corey may know that there isn't enough for a first-degree murder charge, but she wants to charge him with something else -- and she now can "maintain control" of that process.
Corey took over the case last month after the prosecutor who normally handles cases out of Sanford recused himself.
The death of the unarmed black teen at the hands of the neighborhood watch volunteer has led to protests across the nation. One of those protests today prompted the temporary closing of the Sanford Police Department offices to the public, as about a half-dozen student activists blocked the entrance.
Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother Hispanic, turned himself in earlier in the day and will make a court appearance as early as Thursday, when his lawyer plans to ask for bail.