ORLANDO, Fla. — A grand jury will not look into the Trayvon Martin case, a special prosecutor said Monday, leaving the decision of whether to charge the teen's shooter in her hands alone and eliminating the possibility of a first-degree murder charge.
That prosecutor, Angela Corey, said her decision had no bearing on whether she would file charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who has said he shot the unarmed black teen in self-defense. Corey could still decide to charge him with a serious felony such as manslaughter which can carry a lengthy prison sentence if he is convicted.
A grand jury had been set to meet Tuesday in Sanford, about 20 miles northeast of Orlando.
Corey has long had a reputation for not using grand juries if it wasn't necessary. In Florida, only first-degree murder cases require the use of grand juries.
Corey's decision means she doesn't have to rely on potentially unpredictable jurors, said David Hill, an Orlando criminal defense attorney.
"Let's give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she knows there isn't enough for first-degree murder but she wants to maintain control and charge him with something else," Hill said. "What does she need a grand jury for? She cuts out the unpredictability of the grand jury. She goes where she feels she has more evidence."
Corey took over the case last month after the prosecutor who normally handles cases out of Sanford recused himself. That prosecutor, Norm Wolfinger, had originally called for the case to be presented before a grand jury.
Prosecutors sometimes use grand juries to avoid the political fallout from controversial cases. But Corey was elected by voters more than 100 miles away in the Jacksonville area, so political problems are less of an issue for Corey, Hill said.
Martin was killed Feb. 26 during a confrontation with Zimmerman in a gated community in Sanford.
Zimmerman has claimed self-defense.
An attorney for Martin's parents said he is not surprised by the decision to avoid the grand jury and hopes a decision is reached soon.