SANFORD, Fla. - In just a few hours Thursday, both the police chief and prosecutor responsible for the decision to not arrest George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin were removed from the case.
By Friday morning, the newly appointed special prosecutor took possession of the investigative files from the offices of State Attorney Norm Wolfinger, who stepped aside "in the interest of public safety, and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest."
State Attorney Angela Corey, from Jacksonville, and two of her experienced homicide prosecutors wasted no time delving into the investigation, arriving in Seminole County about 14 hours after her appointment by Gov Rick Scott.
Before meeting with Sanford police Friday afternoon, her lead prosecutor, Bernie de la Rionda, told reporters, "We're going to do three things: the first thing is we're going to review everything that's already been done; second thing is we're going to determine what else needs to be done, from our opinion, and then we'll make a decision. We'll apply the facts as we learn them to the law."
He would not say whether they would empanel a grand jury, as Wolfinger's office had planned to do on April 10.
"We're not going to speculate right now as to what the decision will be," de la Rionda said. "We have to wait so we know all the facts. I'm not going to get into what-ifs."
Nor would he comment on any of the facts Corey's office had learned so far.
"We're here to do an investigation," he said. "We're going to do a thorough investigation. And that's our job and so we would ask everyone, bear in mind we just got here. We're going to review what we got, we're going to continue that investigation so everyone needs to just take a break, a minute, let us do our investigation. We've only been on it less than 24 hours."
Asked how long it might take, he said, they would "try to do it as expeditiously as we can."
But he did indicate they would not be bound by prior legal decisions.
"We are looking at it with completely fresh eyes," he said. "We appreciate that an investigation was already done. We're going to review what was already done. We're going to continue to investigate and we will proceed from there."
"Seeking the truth, that's the bottom line," he said. "We are seeking the truth here from everyone involved and we are going to get to the truth, hopefully, one way or the other."
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