Dominion of New York

The 411

March 28, 2012

UPDATED: Lead Detective Wanted to Arrest Zimmerman, SA Refused

More articles by »
Written by: Kelly Virella

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee announced last week that he would take a leave of absence.


he dynamics at work within the Trayvon Martin case became clearer yesterday when ABC News reported that a Sanford police detective wanted to arrest George Zimmerman the night of the killing.

Chris Serino, the lead homicide detective on the case, wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, but the state attorney’s office said there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction.

The news sheds some light on the decision of the state’s attorney who had been overseeing the case to step down from it. Last week Seminole County State Attorney Norman R. Wolfinger removed himself from the case saying that he wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The investigation is continuing under the helm of a new special prosecutor, State Attorney Angela Corey, and with the involvement of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and  the United States Justice Department.

Last week the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s parents, Benjamin Crump, said during a press conference that a grand jury would be receiving the case, but the new special prosecutor told the Miami Herald that she might not use one.

More probable, said Corey, is that she’ll be the one to decide.

“I always lean towards moving forward without needing the grand jury in a case like this,” she told The Herald/Times. “I foresee us being able to make a decision, and move on it on our own.”

Corey is the state’s attorney for Jacksonville, Florida. Her office recently charged with manslaughter a white man who shot and killed a black man during a road rage argument, according to First Coast News. The white man in that case is also claiming self-defense, saying he fears for his life. Corey told the Post: “If he fights it on Stand Your Ground, we’re going to fight back.”

If Corey were to forego a grand jury, the crime couldnt be charged as capital murder under Florida law, the Palm Beach Post reports.

Crump told the Palm Beach Post that Trayvon’s parents “want George Zimmerman arrested.” He added: “If the special prosecutor opts not to empanel a grand jury, the family would be very hopeful that an arrest would be imminent.”


CBS News has published a good timeline of the investigation — the first I’ve ever seen — proving more details about the conflict between Serino and the state’s attorney’s office. Their story says that that on the night of the killing, police questioned Zimmerman for five hours at police headquarters. The next day, detectives re-enacted the shooting with Zimmerman at the scene. For the next to weeks Serino pursued a manslaughter charge against Zimmerman. Police interviewed six witnesses, none of whom had seen the conflict start or end with a shooting. On March 12, police gave the case to the state attorney, who declined to press charges, saying they needed more evidence.

About the Author

Kelly Virella
Kelly Virella lives in an East Harlem walk-up with her husband, her bicycle and her books. She's worked as a journalist for 11 years and started this website during the summer of 2011. She fell in love with New York City during her first visit here as a 16-year-old and finally made good on her promise to move here in April 2010.


Official portrait from his tenure as US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.