The special prosecutor investigating the death of Trayvon Martin announced Wednesday evening that George Zimmerman, who told police he shot the teen in self defense, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Authorities said that Zimmerman, who has been in hiding for weeks, was in police custody. Special prosecutor Angela Corey said during a news conference that she would not reveal where Zimmerman was out of concern for his safety. "He is within the custody of
The murder charge indicates that prosecutors believe that they can prove Zimmerman shot Martin with malice, though without premeditation. A manslaughter charge would have required prosecutors only to prove that Zimmerman acted unlawfully and with criminal negligence in shooting the teen.
"The difference between murder and manslaughter is your mental state," said Mark Geragos, a Los Angeles
Malice is generally defined as showing ill will or "extreme indifference" to human life.
The announcement of the charges comes a day after Zimmerman's attorneys withdrew their counsel, saying they lost contact with him and that he repeatedly ignored their legal advice.