Special prosecutor decides against a grand jury in #Trayvon Martin case

Via the Associated Press (bolded emphasis added by me):

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.

“From the moment she was assigned, Ms. Corey noted she may not need a grand jury,” said a statement from Corey’s office.

Well, from this news we know that if the special prosecutor plans to bring charges against Zimmerman, it won’t be first-degree murder, which I suspect even the Martin family attorney knew wasn’t going to happen based on what is known about the case to date.

Doug Mataconis speculates:

As to the first issue, it seems pretty clear from the evidence that has come forward that this is not a First Degree Murder case so there really isn’t any legal need for a grand jury. At most, what we’re looking at here is Second Degree Murder, or more likely Manslaughter, at least as far as an initial charge goes. Given the controversy that has surrounded this case, of course, one would have thought that the prosecutor would have wanted the “buffer zone” of a grand jury so that she wouldn’t be the one responsible for making the sole decision here. But she obviously doesn’t think its necessary.

There is another possibility, of course. Given the nature of the self-defense claim that Zimmerman will obviously raise in this case, she may have feared that a grand jury would have refused to indict based on the evidence, which would have been politically troublesome to say the least. Zimmermann will still have an opportunity to raise the argument of self-defense before trial, but at least this way Corey would be able to have Zimmerman arrested and charged, which would likely go a long way toward cooling tensions in Seminole County.

Or, perhaps he won’t be charged at all – so speculates Tom Maguire:

Applying my “Sauce For The Goose” doctrine, I  infer that a prosecutor can also issue a report in the absence of an indictment.  However, clearing that up would be a great clue as to where this case is headed, because I don’t think the public will stand for an announcement of no charges unless accompanied by a comprehensive report.

So, either this prosecutor will be charging Zimmerman or she will be issuing a report. If the law does not allow her to issue a report except by way of a grand jury, then Zimmerman will be charged.  If the law does allow a prosecutor’s report, then toss a coin or find your answer here.

MY TWO CENTS: Maybe the forensics make Zimmerman out to be a liar.  But what we have seen publicly makes me think we are miles from a path to a conviction.  With that “public info” caveat, I predict no charges.

Corey’s statement is here (via Jeralyn Merrit).

As they say, stay tuned.

Nigeria: Religion of Peace leaves people in pieces

**Posted by Phineas

A double car-bombing at a church kills fifty. On Easter Sunday:

Shehu Sani, the President of Civil Rights Congress based in Kaduna, said two explosions took place at the Assemblies of God’s Church near the centre of the city with a large Christian population and known as a major cultural and economic centre in Nigeria’s north.

“There were two explosions and the casualty figure may go up because some injuries were really critical,” he said on phone.

Another resident of the city, Miss Blessing Audu said that the explosion has caused panic among Christians celebrating Easter.

She said some parts of the church were damaged even as the vibration caused by the explosives were heard in several parts of the city.

An emergency worker on condition of anonymity explained that the bombs were planted in two cars near the church.

At least 50 people were killed amid fears that the casualties may rise from the blasts.

But who could have done this?

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings, but the BBC reported that Boko Haram recently said it would carry out attacks in the area over the Easter holiday.

The radical group has carried out a series of attacks on churches and other locations on Christmas Day, including outside the church in capital Abuja, where 44 people died.

It is waging a bloody war against the government to seek the enforcement of strict Shariah law and the release of all its detained members.

The imposition of Sharia is the goal of jihad:

And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do.

(See also for an exegesis.)

This isn’t a police matter. This is “jihad fi sabil Allah,” war for the sake of Allah. And it’s going to happen again and again in the borderlands between Islamic and non-Islamic civilizations, whether we leave Iraq and Afghanistan or stay.

They’re on a mission from Allah.

RELATED: Background on Boko Haram, which is an al Qaeda ally.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)