SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — After an extraordinary public campaign to make an arrest in the shooting of an unarmed black teen, a Florida prosecutor came back with a murder charge in the case that has galvanized the nation for weeks.
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But prosecutors face steep hurdles to win a second-degree murder conviction against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, experts say. They will have to prove Zimmerman intentionally went after Martin instead of shooting him in self-defense, refute arguments that a Florida law empowered him to use deadly force and get past a judge’s ruling at a pretrial hearing.
Zimmerman, 28, who turned himself in at a county jail Wednesday after prosecutor Angela Corey announced the charge, was to appear before a magistrate Thursday and plead not guilty in the Feb. 26 shooting of the 17-year-old that set off a nationwide debate about racial profiling and the rights to self-defense.