(SANFORD, Fla.) — After weeks of silence and seclusion, George Zimmerman has released a public statement about the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, referring to incident as a “life altering event” on his website, therealgeorgezimmerman.com.
In a statement on the site, which Zimmerman’s attorneys have confirmed to ABC News belongs to him, the 28-year-old wrote, “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.”
Zimmerman says his website gives him an outlet to speak directly to his supporters. On the site he created a PayPal account where he also asks supporters to donate to his legal fund and living expenses. However, the site has been unavailable intermittently throughout the day.
These first public comments come as the special prosecutor investigating the shooting decided against empaneling a grand jury to seek an indictment against Zimmerman. The decision to forego a grand jury precludes a first-degree murder charge, but prosecutors insist that was never a viable option. Charges against Zimmerman, if filed, could come within days.
“The state must go forward and be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Angela Corey, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, in a statement.
Corey, a state’s attorney based in Jacksonville, took over the case three weeks after the Feb. 26 shooting. Her team has had to re-investigate virtually the entire case from scratch after a string of alleged police missteps.
Zimmerman told police that he shot the 17-year-old teen in self-defense. His attorneys tell ABC News they plan on invoking Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, which would be a tough defense for Corey to overcome.
“It makes the case, in general, more difficult than a normal criminal case,” Corey recently told ABC News.
Hal Uhrig, Zimmerman’s attorney, in a statement to ABC News called Corey a “fair” prosecutor, adding, “We are hopeful she sees the clear evidence, applies the law and declines to prosecute.”
As Corey’s investigation continues, Sanford remains a city on edge. Earlier protestors demanding Zimmerman’s arrest blockaded the Sanford police department, forcing its closure for several hours. Emergency operation centers opened in three counties in anticipation of possible unrest as the days continue to drag on without an arrest.
“Are we are a kindling box? Sure,” said Sanford mayor Jeff Triplett in an interview Monday. “But we plan for the worst and hope for the best…and so far all the protests so far have been absolutely peaceful.”
In the first meeting of the Sanford city commissioners since the former police chief was publicly rebuked via a vote of no confidence, tensions continued to simmer over how the city has handled the investigation and response.
A black veteran yelled at commissioners, “If Zimmerman don’t get arrested, I really believe there’s going to be some retaliation … because we failed to take responsibility in Sanford.”
The heated rhetoric forced one Zimmerman family member to lash out in a letter obtained by Daily Caller written to Attorney General Eric Holder. After citing the U.S. Department of Justice’s published definition of a “hate crime,” the Zimmerman family member wrote that there is “no other explanation for Holder’s failure to authorize arrests of New Black Panther Party members other than the fact that Holder himself is black.”
As a city, state and nation continue to fixate on this case, the Martin family says they remain hopeful that Zimmerman will be arrested. A statement from family attorney Benjamin Crump states that the family is “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.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire