New Prosecuter appointed in Martin Case - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

New Prosecuter appointed in Martin Case

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  • 911 calls released in Sanford shooting

    911 calls released in Sanford shooting

    Wednesday, April 11 2012 9:52 AM EDT2012-04-11 13:52:36 GMT
    Sanford Police have released the 911 calls placed on the night of a fatal shooting which took the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
    Sanford Police have released the 911 calls placed on the night of a fatal shooting which took the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
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  • Robert Zimmerman interview

    Robert Zimmerman interview

    For the first time since that fateful night on February 26, the father of a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager sat down for a television interview.
    For the first time since that fateful night on February 26, the father of a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager sat down for a television interview.

The investigation into last month's shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., is out of the hands of the Sanford Police Chief and now the county prosecutor has called it quits too. On Thursday, hours after Chief Bill Lee said he was temporarily stepping down, Gov. Rick Scott announced that the local state attorney had recused himself from the case as well.

Gov. Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi worked together to appoint Angela B. Corey (of the 4th Judicial Circuit) as the newly Assigned State Attorney in the investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin. With that announcement made Thursday, the Governor also announced the formation of a task force which will convene following the conclusion of the investigation by State Attorney Corey.

The Governor and General Bondi said they have full faith in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice and State Attorney Corey. They also continued and said that a full and thorough investigation will be conducted.

 The police chief at the center of a fatal neighborhood watch shooting says he is stepping down temporarily because he has become a distraction.  Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee made the announcement at a news conference Thursday,  a few hours before the Florida Attorney General's Office announced the appointment of a special prosecutor in the investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin.   

Martin, an unarmed black teen, was shot to death on Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.  Lee has been criticized after police did not arrest Zimmerman, who claims he was acting in self-defense.

"As a former homicide investigator, a career law enforcement officer and a father, I am keenly aware of the emotions associated with death of a child. I'm also aware that my role as a leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation," said Lee. "While I stand by the Sanford Police Department, its personnel, and the investigation that was conducted in regards to the Trayvon Martin case, it is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process."

The police chief has said authorities were prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time of the shooting.  Zimmerman told police the 17-year-old Martin attacked him after he had given up on chasing the teenager and was returning to his sport utility vehicle.

Lee said he was temporarily stepping down in hopes of, "restoring some semblance of calm to the city which has been in turmoil for several weeks." He went on to say, "I've made sure that the facts of this case have been presented to the Office of the State Attorney. It is my hope, the investigation process will move forward swiftly and appropriately through the justice system and that a final determination in this case be reached."

"As we go down this path, it has truly been a step by step process, and I think this is big step in the process," said Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett of Lee's announcement.

Responding to a question about accusations of racism in the police force, Mayor Triplet said he has spoken with federal officials and is even considering an external review of the police department by a non-government third party.

"By going out to Department of Justice and FDLE ... if there is something there, I will act accordingly," he said.

The attorney for the Martin Family responded to Lee's announcement during a rally later in the afternoon, alongside the civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton.  "We feel that is inconsequential to the issue at hand," said Benjamin Crump. "What we want is the arrest of George Zimmerman today!"

Sharpton said he was set on attending a Thursday evening rally in Sanford despite the death of his mother.  Sharpton's 87-year-old mother, Ada, died early Thursday. Sharpton says his mother would have wanted him to attend the rally.

"We came for permanent justice. Arrest Zimmerman now!" said Sharpton. "Investigate the Sanford Police Department from top to bottom," he added.

Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. has appointed joint commanders Capt. Darren Scott and Capt. Robert O'Connor to lead the police department in Lee's absence.  Scott has been with the Sanford Police Department for 23 years. O'Conner is a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, retired from FDLE, before joining SPD.

"I am confident that Captain Scott and Captain O' Connor will provide the leadership necessary to keep this agency functioning at the highest level," said Bonaparte in a statement sent to FOX 35.

The parents of Trayvon Martin met with U.S. Justice Department officials and representatives from the FBI hours before a rally in Downtown Sanford.

Martin's parents and the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke with the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida and the deputy assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights


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