Photo by Gary Green/The Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images.
UPDATE: George Zimmerman "profiled" Trayvon Martin and was the aggressor in a series of events that led to the February death of the unarmed Florida teen, according to the affidavit of probable cause submitted by the state.
In the document that details their case against the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, state investigators allege that upon seeing Martin, Zimmerman "assumed Martin was a criminal" and "felt Martin did not belong in the gated community," prompting Zimmerman's 911 call.
During that call, the affidavit continues: "Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighborhood. Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated "these ***holes, they always get away" and also said "these f****ing punks." As the Associated Press notes, however, those last three words indicate that investigators have concluded that Zimmerman did not utter a racial slur during the call, as some had suggested he had after listening to the tape.
The court filing indicates that the Florida teen was on the phone with a friend in the lead-up to the confrontation because he was "scared because he was being followed by an unknown male," according to one witness. Zimmerman then confronted Martin, according to prosecutors, quite possibly because he didn't want Martin to get away before the police arrived at the scene. The ensuing struggle ended with Zimmerman fatally shooting Martin, which Zimmerman says was in self defense.
Zimmerman is currently in police custody on a second-degree murder charge, and will appear in court again next Friday for a bond hearing, during which his new lawyer, Mark O'Mara, will ask for Zimmerman to be set free on bail. O'Mara said Friday that he will argue that his client isn't a flight risk, as he had six weeks to flee between the incident and his arrest, but didn't.
Thursday, April 12 2:23 p.m.: George Zimmerman on Thursday made his first court appearance since being charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The hearing lasted only minutes and was mostly a formality, but it nonetheless provided the public with its first glimpse of the 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer since he became the center of attention.
The Associated Press reports that Zimmerman appeared in a gray prison jumpsuit, and spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," twice in response to basic questions from the judge.
More from the AP: "His hair was shaved down to stubble and he had a thin goatee, which appeared consistent with his booking photo from the day before. He had resurfaced Wednesday to turn himself in after weeks in hiding."
The judge ruled that there was probably cause to proceed with the case, and set an arraignment hearing for May 29.
Thursday, April 12: George Zimmerman is slated to make an appearance in Florida court Thursday afternoon, one day after he was formally charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, who has maintained from the outset that he shot the Florida teen in self-defense, will plead not guilty to the charge, his new lawyer, Mark O'Mara, said Wednesday evening, adding that he will request that his client be released on bond.
"I think he's troubled by the fact the state decided to charge him," said O'Mara, who took the case after Zimmerman's previous lawyers quit after he went radio dark. "I would think anyone charged with second-degree murder would be scared."
Under Florida law, second-degree murder refers to a killing that is not premeditated but that is carried out with "a depraved mind regardless of human life." If convicted, Zimmerman faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole and a minimum sentence of 25 years without parole.
Wednesday, April 11: George Zimmerman was taken into custody on Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, the special prosecutor tapped to lead the state's investigation into the case announced at an evening press conference.
"We did not come to this decision lightly," Florida special prosecutor Angela Corey said in Jacksonville. "We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition; we prosecute by the facts of any given case as well as the laws of Florida."
If convicted, Zimmerman faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole and a minimum sentence of 25 years without parole.
CNN reports that Zimmerman had been out of the state but that the 28-year-old voluntarily returned to Florida to turn himself into authorities after learning charges were forthcoming. Corey would not disclose the location of where Zimmerman is being held due to safety concerns.
Zimmerman's original defense lawyers announced Tuesday that they would no longer represent the neighborhood watch volunteer because he had cut off contact with them and repeatedly failed to follow their legal advice in recent days. Nonetheless, they suggested Wednesday that they believed their former client's claim of self-defense in the shooting.
According to CNN, Zimmerman's new lawyer is Mark O'Mara, a criminal defense attorney in central Florida. (You can see what appears to be his law firm's website here.)
News of the second-degree murder charge came the same week that Corey opted against presenting the case to a grand jury, a decision that cleared the way for her to make the final decision on whether Zimmerman would be charged. Under Florida law, a grand jury would have only been necessary if Corey had sought first-degree murder charges against Zimmerman.
The Root's Cynthia Gordy is in Washington, D.C., where Trayvon Martin's parents attended an event Wednesday organized by Rev. Al Sharpton. You can read her coverage here.
Wednesday, April 11: According to George Zimmerman's now former attorneys, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin has been pushed "a little bit over the edge" by the national scrutiny that has forced him into hiding.
Defense attorney Hal Uhrig said Wednesday that Zimmerman has lost weight and is possibly "emotionally crippled by virtue of the pressure of this case," the Associated Press reports.
Uhrig and Craig Sonner, the two men who had been representing Zimmerman, announced Tuesday that they will no longer do so after he failed to follow their advice and broke off contact.
On Wednesday, Sonner said that while he is no longer representing Zimmerman, he believes his former client's claims of self defense. "I believe that he's gotten a raw deal from the media, that the media has tried to convict him wrongfully," Sonner said on CNN. "When the facts come out, it'll show he acted in self-defense, that the police department made the proper decision in not arresting him, as there was not probable cause to make the arrest."
Meanwhile, the special prosecutor assigned to the case announced Tuesday that she will make an announcement about her investigation in the next 72 hours, CNN reports. While it is unclear exactly what she will announce, most observers believe it will be concerning whether or not Zimmerman will face charges in Martin's death.
Tuesday, April 10, 5:31 p.m.: George Zimmerman's lawyers announced Tuesday that they will no longer represent him, saying that he had failed to follow their legal advice and that he was no longer in contact with them.
Defense attorneys Craig Sonner and Hal Uhrig broke the news at an unexpectedly bizarre press conference in Florida, saying that they had not had contact with Zimmerman since this past Sunday and that they had never actually met face to face with him, instead relying on phone calls and meetings with his family members.
They also said that, against their advice, their now ex-client had contacted the special prosecutor who will decide whether or not he should face charges, the Associated Press reports.
"As of the last couple days he has not returned phone calls, text messages or emails," Sonner said. "He's gone on his own. I'm not sure what he's doing or who he's talking to. I cannot go forward speaking to the public about George Zimmerman and this case as representing him because I've lost contact with him."
Perhaps the oddest allegation Zimmerman's former lawyers made was that their client had recently met in private with Sean Hannity, and then refused to tell them what he and the Fox News host had discussed, according to the Huffington Post. "George called Sean Hannity of Fox News off the record and he was unwilling to tell us what was said," Uhrig said.
The latest developments come on the same day that Zimmerman unveiled a website soliciting donations from his supporters to help pay his legal costs.
Tuesday, April 10: George Zimmerman has created a website from hiding, offering some of his first public comments since he shot and killed Trayvon Martin earlier this year and asking for donations from supporters to help cover his legal defense and living expenses.
In a short statement on the website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com, Zimmerman does not offer specifics of the shooting, which he claims was in self-defense, saying only that he "was involved in a life altering event" that led him to "become the subject of intense media coverage."
He continues: "As a result of the incident and subsequent media coverage, I have been forced to leave my home, my school, my employer, my family and ultimately, my entire life."
One of Zimmerman's lawyers has confirmed the authenticity of the website to a handful of media outlets, including Reuters. On it, Zimmerman says that he has not received any donations that have been made to a handful of other websites claiming to be raising money for his defense.
The site, rather spartan and set on a background of an American flag, accepts donations via PayPal and includes simple links titled "My Race" and "The Facts," which contain famous quotes. The Race section, for instance, contains only the following quote, attributed to Thomas Paine: "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."
Elsewhere in Slate: David Weigel talks to two witnesses from the night Trayvon Martin died, and Emily Bazelon examines which evidence a jury is likely to see should Zimmerman be charged. Also check out the Root's coverage of the story, and The Slatest's previous updates on the case.