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Trayvon Martin case: George Zimmerman charged, in custody

George Zimmerman, who was arrested and charged in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, is seen in this booking photo on Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (Seminole County Sheriff`s Office)

April 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Florida state attorney Angela Corey announced Wednesday that George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman is in police custody.

The announcement came after weeks of heated national debate and demonstrations across the country.

Corey would not disclose Zimmerman's exact whereabouts for his safety, but said he surrendered to police and would be in court within 24 hours.

"So much information got released on this case that never should have been released. We have to protect this investigation and this prosecution for Trayvon, for his family and for George Zimmerman," Corey said.

Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, shot the unarmed black 17-year-old in what he claimed was self-defense on Feb. 26. Corey said if Florida's "stand your ground" law is used as a defense in this case, she will fight it.

One day after Zimmerman's previous attorneys left the case because they lost contact with him, Orlando attorney Mark O'Mara came forward to represent him. He said Zimmerman plans to plead not guilty.

"I'm expecting a lot of work and hopefully justice in the end," O'Mara said.

Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton quickly reacted to the news of Zimmerman's arrest.

"I just want to speak from my heart to your heart because a heart has no color. It's not black, it's not white. It's red, and I want to say thank you from my heart to your heart," she said.

A source told ABC News that the prosecutor believes that Zimmerman's reckless behavior led to Martin's death. Some key factors, according to the source, is the fact that Zimmerman ignored a dispatcher's suggestion not to follow or engage Martin and that he had no authority to stop Martin. There are also questions about the credibility of Zimmerman's story.

The shooting has many questioning whether it should be termed a hate crime. The Justice Department launched its own investigation of the Martin killing three weeks ago. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the Justice Department will conduct a thorough and independent review of the evidence.

"I know that many of you are greatly - and rightly - concerned about the recent shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a young man whose future has been lost to the ages," Holder said at the 14th annual convention of the National Action Network, a civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"I would urge people to allow the legal process to run its course," Holder said. "I have ... great faith in our criminal justice system."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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