April 14, 2012
Zimmerman (right) has been charged with killing Trayvon Martin. Photo: Reuters
Neighbourhood Watch ''captain'' George Zimmerman has appeared in a Florida court over the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman, who claimed self-defence in the February shooting death of the unarmed teenager, has been charged with second-degree murder. He faces a formal reading of the charge against him, or arraignment, on May 29, the court decided.
Zimmerman was handcuffed and wearing a dark jumpsuit and said only, ''Yes, sir,'' to acknowledge his representation by lawyer Mark O'Mara during the five-minute hearing.
The judge found sufficient evidence to support the charges, clearing the way to send the case to a trial court.
While Zimmerman or his lawyers may enter a not guilty plea at the May 29 hearing before a circuit court judge, O'Mara may seek a separate hearing on bail beforehand. Zimmerman is being held in protective custody and faces as long as life in prison if convicted.
In the affidavit, state investigators said Zimmerman referred to Martin and alleged burglars in his community by several expletives on the emergency call the day of the confrontation.
Zimmerman shot Martin on February 26 in Sanford, a town of 54,000 north of Orlando. Florida's ''Stand Your Ground'' law prevented police from arresting Zimmerman in February, officials said at the time, and may play a role in derailing the prosecution, according to defence lawyers.