Trayvon Martin Case Won't Go to Fla. Grand Jury - NECN

Trayvon Martin Case Won't Go to Fla. Grand Jury



    Prosecutor only obligated to pursue that process if she means to lodge first-degree murder charge; probe continues (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN: Lauren Collins) It's not what Trayvon Martin's sympathizers wanted to hear.

    "The wheels of justice have moved far too slowly in this case," said NAACP President Ben Jealous.

    But special prosecutor Angela Corey is only obligated to send this case to a grand jury if she means to pursue a first degree murder charge.

    "In Florida the law is that the prosecutor can decide whether or not to bring serious charges as this," explains NECN legal analyst Randy Chapman.

    Grand juries are primarily used to gather evidence and further an investigation. They also have the authority to call witnesses and request evidence above and beyond what the prosecutor wants - a rarely used power that has the potential to bog down the process.

    "Where there are a limited number of witnesses and a limited number of records or documents that need to be gathered, the prosecutor can typically do that without the need for presenting the case to a grand jury in Florida," says Chapman.

    Corey could bring a lesser felony charge like manslaughter against George Zimmerman. The neighborhood watch volunteer says he shot the unarmed teenager in self defense. Others believe the fatal encounter was racially motivated.

    "Whether it's a grand jury or a special prosecutor we just want justice for Trayvon Martin," said one demonstrator in Sanford, Fla. Monday.

    A statement from Martin's family attorney Benjamin reads, "We are not surprised by this announcement and, in fact, are hopeful that a decision will be reached very soon to arrest George Zimmerman and give Trayvon Martin's family the simple justice they have been seeking all along."

    "One would hope," stresses Chapman, "that the prosecutor is going to evaluate the evidence dispassionately, and decide whether or not there's a basis in which to charge Mr. Zimmerman, and not do it just based on whether or not there's a public outcry or something that resembles justice."