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Jacksonville Attorney Explains Zimmerman Charge

10:45 PM, Apr 11, 2012   |    comments
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Seminole County Sheriff's Office
George Zimmerman's mugshot from Wednesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- George Zimmerman is in custody in Florida and will be charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, authorities announced Wednesday. His attorney said he would plead not guilty.

"Essentially she's saying he had the intent to do something that was so dangerous to Trayvon Martin, he would know he would be killed," said Janet Johnson, Jacksonville criminal defense attorney.

"Second-degree murder is also called murder with a depraved heart," Johnson explained. "Basically, doing something so depraved that you would know someone's life would be at risk, but you acted anyway."

Corey previously said she wouldn't present the case to a grand jury, which took first-degree murder off the table.

First-degree murder means the murder was premeditated.

"If she had charged him with first-degree she would have said when he was on the phone with the 911 operator and the operator says don't follow him, and he says, 'No, I'm going to follow him, these people always get away,' that could have been when he began to form the premeditation," Johnson explained.

Manslaughter, a lesser charge, does not involve intent.

"I actually thought maybe manslaughter would be even more of an attainable goal," Johnson said. "But apparently she felt this is an attainable goal and it's the highest charge [Corey] can prove with the evidence [Corey has] right now."

Second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

First Coast News

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