The special prosecutor investigating the killing of Trayvon Martin has decided not to convene a grand jury in the case.
Now, the decision to file charges against George Zimmerman, 28, who told police he shot Martin, 17, in self-defense during an altercation in late February, will be totally in the hands of State Attorney Angela B. Corey.
The former state prosecutor on the case, Norman Wolfinger, announced in mid-March that a grand jury would be called to help determine whether Zimmerman would face any charges in Martin’s death. But as public pressure mounted about the case, Wolfinger recused himself from the case, saying that he was stepping away “in the interest of the public safety of the citizens of Seminole County and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Gov. Rick Scott appointed Corey, a prosecutor in the Jacksonville area, to replace Wolfinger on the investigation.
“The decision should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case,” State Attorney Corey’s office said in a statement, according to CNN. The grand jury had been scheduled to convene on Tuesday. “At this time, the investigation continues and there will be no further comment from this office.”
Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Martin’s family, called the move a hopeful sign that Zimmerman could soon be charged.
“I think it signals that an arrest could be forthcoming,” said Jackson. “I don’t have any indication; that is just my opinion, but there is enough evidence in this case for an arrest, and a jury should be the one to decide his fate.”
Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, said that he hopes Corey’s decision is a sign of things to come.
“We hope this decision signals the special prosecutor’s intention to live up to her reputation as a passionate, justice-focused attorney and bring charges against Zimmerman herself,” Jealous said in a statement. “The future of this case now rests solely with her and we have faith that she will do her best to secure justice for Trayvon Martin.”
Richard Rosenbaum, a criminal defense attorney in Florida, said the move could be a good one for the defense.
“We’re always told a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich,” Rosenbaum said. “The fact that the prosecutor is going to give it a separate look, I think it’s a good sign for the defense.”
“I would say that it’s definitely better than a grand jury where there’s no judge, no defense lawyer and no defendant through most of the proceedings,” Rosenbaum said.