After 46 days, George Zimmerman was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
He was held in protective custody away from the other inmates in the Sanford, Florida city jail.
Zimmerman, 28, made his first court appearance Thursday. He did not enter a plea. His arraignment is scheduled for May 29.
The Seminole County Sheriff’s office said Zimmerman underwent a series of physical and mental health tests after arriving at the jail Wednesday night.
There was no sign of scarring on the back of his head, and the booking photo showed no indication his nose had been broken in his confrontation with Martin, as Zimmerman’s former lawyers had claimed.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder. To get a murder conviction, the state will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Zimmerman acted dangerously to another, “evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life.”
The prosecutor will have to prove that Martin’s death was not simply an accident or mistake, but that significant negligence was involved.
If convicted, Zimmerman faces a minimum sentence of 25 years in prison and a maximum of life.
Special prosecutor Angela Corey, who brought the charges against Zimmerman, said at a Wednesday press conference, the “overwhelming amount of publicity in this case” could complicate efforts to get an impartial jury. She complained there was “so much information on this case that was released that shouldn’t have been released.”
Speaking in an interview, Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton said, “We have a sense of peace right now because we know that the person that shot and killed our son will be held accountable for it. We can’t really say what the outcome will be, but we have committed to this journey.”
The U.S. Justice Department is also carrying out an investigation into the shooting. Attorney General Eric Holder said the federal government would have to establish the shooting was a hate crime.
“For a federal hate crime we have to prove the highest standard in the law – it is something that was reckless, that was negligent … We have to show that there was a specific intent to do the crime with the requisite state of mind,” Holder said.