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Trayvon Martin family attorney confident state charges coming in shooting death

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

People hold up signs and bags of Skittles candy during a rally in support of Trayvon Martin at Freedom Plaza in Washington, on Saturday.

An attorney for the family of Trayvon Martin said Saturday he expects that state charges will be filed against the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot dead the unarmed black teenager.

Attorney Daryl Parks, in an interview by Skype with the board of the National Association of Black Journalists, said the family and its attorneys met Thursday with officials from the U.S. Justice Department.


“I think the focus is not a federal arrest over a state arrest,” Parks said told the journalists. “We want an arrest, period. And I think that the state aspect of that is the one that's most feasible, that's most attainable in this matter.”

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Asked his sense that state officials will press charges, he said, “Oh, they will.”

The shooting took place the night of Feb. 26 at the Retreat at Twin Lakes, a gated housing complex in Sanford, Fla., where 28-year-old George Zimmerman was the captain of the neighborhood watch.

Zimmerman had called police to report seeing a suspicious teenager. A short time later, the two crossed paths, a gunshot rang out and Martin died. No arrest has been made, and the case has galvanized the nation and prompted rallies protesting the failure of police to arrest Zimmerman.

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“They [DOJ] realize that to charge this as a hate crime is going to be a challenge, to put it lightly,” Parks said.

“Most state laws tend to be better for the prosecution of state crimes,” Parks told the journalists. “And that's why we see the federal authorities expressing, although gently, they can only do so much if there's some type of race issues involved. The state officials don't have that problem.”

Zimmerman’s lawyer on Saturday reiterated his client’s stance that he fired self-defense.

“This was not a racially motivated situation,'' Zimmerman’s lawyer, Craig Sonner of Altamonte Springs, told Reuters on Saturday. “Actually George Zimmerman was a mentor to a single mother with a 14-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter, and she had nothing but good things to say about his involvement with them, and also helping in raising money for their African American church,'' Sonner said.

Sonner affirmed a police report that Zimmerman suffered a bloody nose and a cut on the back of his head, injuries that Sanford police have said support Zimmerman's claim of self-defense.

Sonner said Martin punched Zimmerman in the nose and Zimmerman hit the back of his head on the ground when he fell backward.

This article includes reporting by NBC News and Reuters.

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