Scott Asks Corey to Lead Case in Sanford; Jacksonville Prosecutor to Investigate Shooting Death of Unarmed Teen

The Florida Times Union, March 23, 2012 | Go to article overview

Scott Asks Corey to Lead Case in Sanford; Jacksonville Prosecutor to Investigate Shooting Death of Unarmed Teen


State Attorney Angela Corey of Jacksonville will take over the investigation into the shooting death in Sanford of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Gov. Rick Scott's office announced Thursday night.

According to a news release by Scott's office, the governor and state Attorney General Pam Bondi asked State Attorney Norman Wolfinger to step aside in favor of Corey.

"I believe Gov. Scott is very comfortable with the level of homicide prosecution that I have done myself," Corey said, "and he knows that we handle a lot of homicides and a lot of issues with justifiable use of deadly force."

Wolfinger cited his reason for stepping down from the investigation as arising from a "conflict of interest," which Corey said is common and can come from a variety of circumstances.

Corey said she has assigned two of her top prosecutors, Bernie de la Rionda and John Guy, to conduct the investigation along with one of her most experienced investigators. The team is traveling to Sanford today.

De la Rionda said he would not speculate on his plans in the investigation, particularly in regard to Wolfinger's decision to have a grand jury review the case.

"I don't think it's appropriate for us to comment about the facts until we know the facts," he said.

Corey said she has so far spoken only to the governor, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the attorney general but has not yet spoken to Wolfinger or any other authorities in Sanford.

"All cases where self defense is claimed are a challenge, Corey said. " ... Anytime there's remotely a possibility of any affirmative defense in a homicide case, we like to get right on top of it."

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee temporarily stepped down Thursday, saying he had become a distraction to the investigation. Lee has been heavily criticized after his officers decided not to arrest George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot the unarmed black teen to death on Feb. …

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