World News

Timeline - Key events in the Trayvon Martin case

(Reuters) - In late February, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed in a gated community in Sanford, Florida, by Neighbourhood Watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

Police did not arrest 28-year-old Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, saying evidence failed to contradict his story that he acted in self-defence after being attacked by Martin.

The racially charged case has prompted demonstrations across the United States demanding Zimmerman’s arrest. He was charged on Wednesday with second-degree murder.

Following is timeline of key events in the case:

February 26 - Martin is shot and killed in a gated community in Sanford. Zimmerman is briefly detained and released by police. He soon goes into hiding.

March 7 - The lawyer hired by Martin’s parents, Ben Crump, tells Reuters in an interview that the family had been unable to persuade Sanford police to arrest Zimmerman.

March 16 - Police release 911 emergency tapes from the night of the shooting. Within hours, the story goes viral on the Internet.

March 18 - A petition is launched on calling for Zimmerman’s arrest. More than 2 million people sign it.

March 19 - The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI open an investigation into the shooting.

March 21 - Activists stage a “Million Hoodies March” in New York to demand justice. Martin was wearing a sweatshirt with a hood, known as a “hoodie,” when he was shot. City commissioners in Sanford pass a motion of “no confidence” in Police Chief Bill Lee Jr.

March 22 - Lee steps down temporarily, saying his role in the case had become a “distraction.”

March 22 - State Attorney Norman Wolfinger also steps aside to “help tone down the rhetoric.”

March 22 - Florida Governor Rick Scott appoints State Attorney Angela Corey to take over the case as a special prosecutor. Scott also appoints a task force to look into public safety in Florida and the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground self-defence law.

March 23 - President Barack Obama says it is “absolutely imperative” that the Martin case be thoroughly investigated and sends a message to Martin’s parents. Obama says, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

March 23 - Miami Heat basketball players pose in “hoodies” in a picture published to protest Martin’s shooting.

March 24 - Rallies are held across the country in support of Martin family.

March 26 - Friends and family of Zimmerman say they fear for his safety.

March 26 - Orlando Sentinel reports Zimmerman told police he shot Martin after he was attacked by the teenager. Zimmerman says Martin punched him, knocked him down and slammed his head into the pavement repeatedly before he fired the fatal gunshot.

April 1 - Protesters rally in Miami, Martin’s hometown.

April 2 - Lawyer for Zimmerman says he will surrender if charged in the Martin shooting.

April 5 - Zimmerman hires second attorney, Hal Uhrig.

April 9 - Zimmerman launches legal defence fund on Internet with PayPal account for donations.

April 9 - Corey rules out putting the case to a grand jury. She says she will decide if charges will be required.

April 10 - Attorneys for Zimmerman withdraw from case, saying Zimmerman is not answering their calls. Lawyers say they fear for Zimmerman’s physical and emotional health.

April 11 - Corey announces Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Compilation by David Adams and Dan Burns; Editing by Peter Cooney